A/N: so vickjawn's spnbbverse was so addictive that, after reading basically every fanfic I could, I had to go and write one myself! :)
If it had been Castiel, Sam was confident that Gabriel would be dead right now.
But even though it was Balthazar, it was a close thing.
The day had been going like any other; well, as ordinary as life could get with three rambunctious toddler angels. Castiel had been sitting next to Dean on the couch, trench coat held close to his chest while his other hand leafed through an old copy of the Bible that Bobby had. Gabriel and Balthazar had been running all over the house, but since they had yet to break anything and it kept them out of trouble, they had been allowed to continue.
It had all gone horribly wrong when Balthazar had chased Gabriel up the stairs. The older angel had reached the top, spun around with a smug grin and then playfully pushed Balthazar, intending to knock him off balance. The problem was, he had. Balthazar had stumbled and then crashed down the stairs, a startled gasp being his only sound until he had hit the bottom.
And then he had screamed.
Not the sort of a scream a typical child makes when they grievously harm themselves, but one an angel makes. The piercing kind that had every human in the house hastily clapping their hands over their ears and then dropping to the floor as every window exploded, glass flying in all directions.
Dean, who'd instinctively curled around Cas' smaller frame, had been the first to pull himself together, having been already familiar with the noise. He was on his feet and running before he'd even realised it. Within seconds he was at Balthazar's side, the middle angel making odd harsh, gasping sounds, eyes screwed shut in pain. The reason for his pain was blindingly obvious, and equally worrying. His left wing was slumped uselessly on the ground, snapped just below its curve. Even as Cas was scrambling out of his arms, Dean was pulling Balthazar into them.
"Shh, shh," he whispered, trying to soothe the tiny angel who was now grey in the face, ashen. Dean winced. Shit, it hurt then; bad.
Footsteps on the stairs drew his attention even as others came from Bobby's study. Dean's eyes were viciously cold as they settled on Gabriel, already knowing from the guilty look on his face that this was of his design.
"Can you heal him?" he demanded.
Gabriel stopped third step from the bottom and then slowly shook his head. "I don-"
Dean cut him off with a growl. "Then get outta my sight. You've done enough damage already."
Sam, who'd just rounded the corner, frowned at the statement but Gabriel was already dashing upstairs. His comment to Dean however was cut off when he caught sight of Balthazar's wing.
"Holy shit!" he swore, racing to his brother's side even as Bobby's own muttered curse came from behind. "Dean?" he asked, eyes worried.
Dean's expression mirrored his own. "Don't look at me Sammy. Do I look like I know how to deal with this? First it's friggen' witches and baby angels, and now it's baby angels with broken wings?! I didn't sign up for this crap."
"Dean," Cas' voice was quiet, but full of reprimand. His attention then returned to his injured sibling, whispering something in Enochian.
There were a couple of sharp breaths before Balthazar was able to answer, stuttered Enochian falling from his lips, a hand reaching out to clasp Castiel's own. He continued to sob loudly though, tears seeping through Dean's shirt.
Carefully, Dean pried the angel off his chest. "You okay?"
Balthazar tried to nod, but there was no hiding the pain in his face. Dean sighed.
"No you're not. Sammy, get the first aid kit."
Bobby frowned at him despite the fact that Sam was already heading towards the kitchen. "Boy, do you know what you're doing?"
"Do any of us?" Dean challenged, rubbing a hand up and down Balthazar's back. "From what I figure, it's probably gonna be some cross between setting a bone and fixing a broken wing."
"You wanna fix this on your own?!"
"Bobby, we don't exactly have a choice," Sam pointed out, returning to kneel beside Dean. "Unless you know someone with a degree in angel wing repairs we could call."
"That would be unwise," Cas said with a frown. "Informing others not only of our location but also our current predicament woul-"
"Cas, Cas!" Dean said, cutting him off. "Sam's joking, alright?"
Cas' frown only deepened. "I do not see how it was amusing at-"
Sam rolled his eyes before clapping the tiny angel on the shoulder, effectively causing him to stop mid-sentence. "Forget the joke and let's concentrate on how we're gonna do this. You're an angel. Have you ever seen this before?"
For a moment Cas' face became a myriad of emotions before he quickly smothered them. "I have never set a wing before, but I know the theory well enough. It is, as Dean said, much like setting a bone. An angel's bones are much stronger than those of a bird."
"So as long as we set it right, it's going to heal just fine?"
Cas nodded slowly. "It will hurt," he warned.
After receiving a nod from Sam, indicating that he was willing to do the setting – something Dean was immeasurably grateful for – Dean tilted Balthazar's face until their eyes were locked. Seeing eyes so old on a body so small was never anything but unnerving but Dean shook it off. "You're gonna have to spread your good wing," he explained, "So Sammy here knows what he's aiming for. Think you can do that?"
The little pompous brat had the nerve to roll his eyes, even if the effect was entirely ruined by the fact that tears were still rolling down his face. "I am capable of stretching my own wings."
Yeah, that hadn't sounded choked out around tears or anything like that. At least the full on sobs had stopped.
Dean was dubious but Balthazar did as asked, spreading his iron-grey wings as best he could. The right one fanned out as it always did, feathers shimmering ever so slightly as they caught rays of sunlight. The left one however remained flumped lifelessly on the ground, and any attempt to move it made Balthazar whimper in pain.
"Hey, easy there mate," Dean hastily warned, "You don't wanna make that any worse."
"I fail to see how that could be possible," Balthazar grumbled but did, as Dean recommended, stop attempting to move it.
There were several long drawn out moments of silence as Sam surveyed the damage. He cringed as he inspected the break more closely but eventually gave a tiny shrug. "I think I can do it."
"Very reassuring," was the angel's drawled response.
"Balthazar, please," Cas murmured, shifting closer and tightening his grip on the angel's pre-offered hand. "They are doing their best."
Balthazar sighed heavily before cautiously nodding. He then hesitated before burrowing himself as far into Dean's chest as he could, one hand fisted in his shirt so hard his knuckles went white. Everyone exchanged looks. Aeon old angel, fine. But trapped in a kid's body with a broken wing? Yeah, you'd have to be heartless to not feel for him.
As gingerly as possible, Sam felt around the broken point of the wing, doing his best to ignore Balthazar's jolts of pain and sharp hisses. Finally finding what he believed to be the right two points, Sam curled a hand around either side of the break. "On three," he warned before doing just that.
The scream Balthazar gave when the wing was snapped back into place was almost as bad as the first. Though there was no glass to shatter this time around, Dean and Sam both bit back tears, hating to see the angel in so much pain. And through all the whimpers and cries Balthazar gave as his wing was taped up in gauze, no one heard the sobbing coming from upstairs.
Barely an hour or so after Balthazar had had his wing re-set, routine had set back in. Balthazar had, most surprisingly, settled himself on Bobby's lap after the older hunter had sat down to plod through some more texts. Bobby had looked at both Winchesters with wide eyes but they'd just shrugged. Balthazar had then ordered them all to shut up…despite none of them having actually said anything. Dean frowned and was inches away from a snarky retort before he managed to snap his mouth shut, deciding instead to go and tinker with the Impala. Cas had faithfully padded after him, trench coat dragging along the ground.
Which left Sam where he was now, standing at the bottom of the stairs and wondering if he dared go up and see what Gabriel was doing. The arch angel hadn't made so much as a peep.
Which was extremely worrying.
Huffing as he recalled the harsh words Dean had thrown the angel's way earlier, he scaled the stairs, heading for the attic where the angels had their nest. Climbing the ladder with some difficulty due to his size, Sam didn't even get to finish calling the angel's name before he realised he wasn't there.
"Gabriel?" he called, louder this time, and more general.
There was no reply.
Spying nothing hiding in any of the dark corners of the room and no suspiciously shaped bumps in the middle of the nest, Sam reluctantly climbed down the ladder. If not here, then where? They would have heard if any of the doors or windows had been opened; they all creaked shockingly, and Bobby made a point of making sure they stayed that way. It was one way of preventing nasty surprises.
Throwing a cursory glance around the room Dean had claimed, and one he often ended up sharing when Cas had nightmares, Sam found nothing. The bathroom was clear, as were both closets. It was when he stepped into his own room that he saw the tiny crack between the wardrobe doors.
"Gabriel?" he called once more, carefully moving towards the closet.
There was no other way to describe Gabriel's tone than a sniffle, an honest to God sniffle. Full of snot and past tears. Sam sighed sadly and went to pull open the door only to be stopped when tiny fingers shot through the gap and vainly tried to close the door even further.
"No! Leave me alone!"
"Hey, Gabriel, come on," Sam groaned, trying the door but not really, because honestly Gabriel was barely even what five?, six?, and was definitely not strong enough to keep him from really opening the door.
The conviction was less though, and Sam knew he was winning. "Gabriel, please. Come on," he coaxed, prying the door a few more inches. Eventually Gabriel just gave up completely, dropping his hold.
Truthfully, he looked a mess. His eyes were red and puffed from crying, his hair was dishevelled and smothered in dust. Dirty tears tracks ran down his cheeks and Sam was pretty sure that that was snot on the angel's sleeves. Gross. His little golden wings were flapping pathetically, pitifully, somehow despondent seeming.
Sam hesitated, unsure of what to do. For all his blustering and macho acts, Dean was the better of the two of them at interacting with kids. So, he went with the most obvious, and redundant, question. "What's wrong?"
The look Gabriel gave him was hateful. "Don't give me that Sasquatch! You already know!"
"Balthazar? Dude, I know it was bad, but it was an accident." Sam cupped Gabriel's chin in his hand. "You didn't mean to hurt him, it just happened. It wasn't your fault."
The angel's bottom lip wobbled and then he ripped himself away, burying his face in his knees. "Hurt him? Hurt him? You don't understand! You don't know what I did!"
Frowning, Sam moved until he was actually sitting, reaching out to place a hand on the shaking back. "I don't…You're right, I don't understand. What co-"
"Do you know that when an angel falls, their wings get ripped out of their back?"
The question was so quiet he struggled to hear it. Sam pondered it for a moment, confused as to where it was going. Looking up and seeing that Gabriel was now watching him, he shook his head softly. "No, I didn't know that, well not for sure at least."
Gabriel swallowed thickly before looking up at the clothes hanging above him, trying to keep tears from escaping. "It's one of the most painful things in the world. They say it's like dying one hundred times over, only you never get the relief of actually dying. It's the most dreadful pain in all of creation." The angel gave a sniff before continuing. "Angels can't make other angels fall – they have to perform the sins themselves or have an arch angel cast them out – but…" here he stammered. "But…everyone soon discovered that the most effective way to torture an angel, to break them, to make them stop resisting, to give in…was to break their wings. A pain like no other. So painful that they had to invent the word 'agony' to even describe it."
Gabriel locked eyes with Sam for a moment before dutifully staring at the ground. "That's what I did to my brother. I tortured him, in the most inhumane way possible. I tortured him!"
"Oh my god," Sam whispered.
"Leave Father out of this," Gabriel grumbled, turning and throwing himself into Sam's lap so unexpectedly that the hunter barely had time to catch himself before he could topple over. "Sam! How can I be forgiven for this? I didn't mean to hurt him but…but…I just wanted…I…" His tiny body was shaking terribly. "I'm sorry…I'm sorry!"
Sam scooped the tiny angel up, cradling him against his chest and tucking his head into his shoulder. "Gabriel, Balthazar's okay." This time, he didn't relent from the icy gaze. "Is he still in pain? Of course. But he's fine. His wing will heal. It'll be forgotten about before you even know it."
"But…but…what if he-"
"Gabriel. He's going to be fine."
The arch angel had his mouth open, as if to protest, before he slumped, arms coming to wrap around Sam's neck. Sam gave a sad smile, drawing Gabriel in a little closer and bringing a hand up to massage his scalp comfortingly. How long they stayed there, Sam couldn't be sure. What he was sure of though, was that he would never forget the feeling of Gabriel sobbing into his chest, the words "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" repeating on a never-ending loop.
In the end, he actually felt quite sorry for the little angel.
By the time Sam was able to convince Gabriel to come downstairs and eat – not that the angels really needed to eat – it was late and the others had all but finished their dinners already. The room went still as Gabriel entered, Balthazar half out of his chair, intending to put his plate away. The awkward silence dragged on until Balthazar dropped to floor and left the table. Gabriel's bottom lip wobbled traitorously and Sam was ready to scold the middle angel for his cruelty when he realised that said angel was already in the living room.
"Wan' watch mo'ie," he slurred tiredly, looking at the adults pleadingly.
"Dude, you look wasted," Dean said round a chuckle, watching the kid struggle onto the couch.
"Sore," came the simple response.
Dean winced guiltily before shooing Cas out of his chair and ordering him to go join his brother. Sam looked between the dinner table, the couch and Gabriel uncertainly, not sure which way to steer the arch angel when that same tiny voice cut through his thoughts.
They were confident they'd never seen Gabriel move so fast in his life. He scurried over to his brothers, trying to push between them and sit in the middle. Sam laughed and Bobby rolled his eyes. It was Dean that saw the torn look in Balthazar's eyes before he shook his head, reaching past Gabriel to grab Cas' hand and pull him flush to his side. To be fair, the little angel did pat the spot on Cas' other side and he did, as soon as Cas was close enough, snatch the bottom end of his trench coat and wrap it around himself. But Dean saw the hurt in Gabriel's eyes, even as he jumped up next to Cas and loudly demanded they put a movie on.
Why they bothered in the end, Dean didn't really know because before the opening logos had even finished, Balthazar was asleep, flumped over the side of the couch, arms hanging listlessly. Cas was watching the movie with rapt attention, but he was the only once, since Gabriel spent the entire time watching Balthazar.
And it hurt because, yeah, Dean had seen that look before. He'd been the one giving that look. And it hurt.
With Balthazar out so early, it hadn't been hard to convince the other angels to head up to bed as soon as the movie was done. They'd had to wake Balthazar, who'd rubbed his eyes blearily and all but stumbled up the stairs. Sam and Dean had barely exchanged looks before deciding to forego bath time. They'd simply ushered the angels to bed and they'd gone without complaint, Gabriel without his usual whining and Cas without his usual clinging to Dean's leg and pleading to stay with him just in case. In case of what, he never said.
Which had meant that, for once, Dean had had an awesome night. No bratty, whinging angels to chase around, no suspicious thumping noises coming from the attic after "lights out", and no potentially hazardous after-dinner mess to clean up. Because of that, he'd been able to shower in peace, enjoy a few beers, put his feet up and watch whatever John Wayne movie was on tv. Sam had joined him at one stage, picking the movie to pieces and laughing whenever Dean would growl at him in response. They'd smacked each other with pillows, called each other 'bitch' and 'jerk', and pegged some popcorn they'd found and made at the other until Bobby finally came in and told them to shut the hell up so they didn't wake the angel brigade. It didn't escape either of their notice though that he was trying to hide a smile while doing so and, for one single minute, it was like they were a normal family.
But eventually the moment had been broken, Sam continually falling asleep and Bobby ordering him to bed after he'd found him with a piece of popcorn stuck in each nostril courtesy of Dean. Dean'd gotten a bitch-face for his trouble and went to turn in himself perhaps only half an hour later. That all came to a stop when he saw a figure standing at the end of the hall, huddled in tight on themselves.
"…Cas?" he called hesitantly, but even as he said it he knew it was wrong. Cas would've already been in his arms by now.
If anything, the figure tried to make themselves even smaller…which only told Dean who it was all the quicker.
The angel stiffened. Bingo.
"What are you doing? It's late, Prince Charles. Shouldn't you be, I don't know, sleeping?"
Balthazar nodded and squirmed under his gaze, taking not quite a step forward but moving forward enough that he was able to grasp the ladder that led to the attic. He gripped it tightly but his bottom lip was pulled between his teeth and his gaze never left the floor.
"What's the problem?" Dean asked, stepping closer. "You climbed down and can't get up or-" He stopped when the tiny angel shrunk in on himself. Right, arrogant dick as an adult. Petulant, but ridiculously shy and skittish as a child. God help him.
Dean sighed, shifting into a crouch, tilting his head so their eyes met. "You wanna tell me what's really wrong?"
Balthazar shuffled a foot before finally mumbling, "…hurts."
"Hurts? You mean your wing?"
He shrugged noncommittally. "No…I mean…it doesn't hurt but Cassie and Gabriel keep wriggling and kicking and…" Balthazar petered off, clearly embarrassed that he'd said so much.
Dean felt his heart soften just a bit. "And since you're so crowded in that nest of yours, I'm guessing you keep getting smacked where you don't really appreciate it?" He didn't know what possessed him to do it, but the next thing he knew, he had Balthazar whisked up into his arms and was heading back towards his room.
"Dean? What in the devil's name are yo-"
"Hey! Don't drag your big brother into this. Knowing the son of a bitch he'd probably turn up." He flicked on the light to his room and dumped Balthazar on the bed. "And as for what I'm doing, you're staying here, out of your brothers' line of fire. And no arguing," he groaned, seeing the mouth open to protest. "It's late so just do what I say, okay?"
The angel huffed, crossing his arms with a frown, and his good wing fluffed up in outrage. And yet, he made no complaint when Dean pulled back the blankets and ushered him in. Dean did a cursory check of Balthazar's bandages and splint, making sure they hadn't been disrupted during their bumps, before reaching over to turn off the light. With the room flooded with darkness, the elder Winchester would be the first to admit that he was uncomfortable with the situation but hey, it saved the little angel some pain and he wasn't a heartless dick like that.
Speaking of said angel, Balthazar seemed just as uncomfortable as he wiggled and squirmed before finally settling down, resting against Dean's side. They lasted a good two minutes before Dean lifted his hand to scratch an itch and Balthazar hissed in pain, back arching.
"Whoa, shit, shit!" Dean cursed, rubbing the angel's upper back and neck soothingly. "Sorry Balthy. Accident, I swear!"
Owlish eyes blinked up at him. "Balthy?" he repeated slowly. "You…you've never given me a nickname before…I understand why Cassie values it so much. It is…nice."
Dean didn't quite know what to say to that, and so instead just leant over, hauling the angel onto his chest. Balthazar squawked – honest to god, squawked – and his little wings fluttered uselessly in protest. Dean silenced him with a growl and then brought an arm up to rest between Balthazar's wings, hand settling on the nape of his neck. His tiny charge stared at him from one impossibly long moment before burrowing into the hollow of his collar bone.
"See?" Dean asked, almost proud of himself. "Now I can't bump you and you get to keep your wing safe an-…Oh you had better not be crying."
"'m not crying."
He was so crying.
"Yeah well you can stop that alright, because as long as Sam and Bobby and me are here, nothing's going to happen to you or your brothers, even the douchey one."
A half-laugh, half-sob escaped Balthazar's throat but he nodded. "Thank you," he muttered, voice slurring as he slipped into unconsciousness. "Stupid mud monkey."
Years of hunting had him jerking awake the instant he heard his name called. It was only the hand on his shoulder that prevented Dean from actually jerking upright. The first thing he realised was that it was Sam that was beside his bed, and the second was the unexpected weight on his chest. Looking down, he caught sight of a shock of blond hair and suddenly remembered what had happened last night.
His brother had the nerve to roll his eyes. "Really Dean? You're going to explain actually giving a damn? Just…whatever, anyway…" he paused to make sure Balthazar was still asleep, something that made Dean really start paying attention. "Can I talk to you for a second about Gabriel?"
"If this about some bizarre angelic fetish thing you've go-"
"Fine Sammy, what?"
Sam stepped closer and dropped his voice even lower. "Look, I was talking to him yesterday and he was really upset. I know," he said quickly, holding up a hand to stop Dean, "That he had every reason to be but after I talked to him…Dean, what he did was an accident, and you know we've done worse to each other."
Dean had to grunt, knowing it was true.
"But what the repercussions were? Dean, Gabriel told me that what he did was the angel equivalent of extreme torture."
His brother went rigid, hand stilling from where it had been idly toying with Balthazar's feathers. That explained Gabriel's reaction last night when he hadn't been allowed to cuddle on the couch.
"He made a mistake and he's really sorry about it. Okay?"
Dean's eyes lifted to lock with his. "So what do you want me to do about it?"
Sam shrugged uncertainly. "I don't know just…not be a jerk to him? And maybe make sure Balthazar isn't either…?"
"Can't promise that," Dean warned.
Sam gave him a soft smile. "No, you'll do it. You're good at this whole brother thing."
The statement had Dean blinking in surprise but Sam chose that as his chance to escape the room, ducking out before anything more could be said. Dean huffed a bit but then shook it off as a girly Sam-thing. He instead returned to straightening Balthazar's feathers, the angel occasionally making little noises of protest when a feather was nudged the wrong way or tugged a little too hard. He didn't wake though and Dean wondered how long it had been – if ever – since the three angels had had their wings properly attended to. Knowing the dicks they called their family, never.
A soft shuffling noise came as his door was pushed open and Dean looked over, fully intending to see Cas. He frowned a little when he saw Gabriel instead. The arch angel seemed just as surprised to see him, apparently having assumed he was already up and downstairs. He wilted under Dean's scrutiny and made to back out but Dean waved him forward.
"Come here," he called quietly. "I wanna talk to you."
As he said that, he slid his other hand up and surreptitiously poked Balthazar awake. He felt the kid stir and quickly slapped his hand over his mouth, all out of Gabriel's sight. He could feel the angel on top of him get ready to force himself away and so tightened the grip on his back warningly while also addressing Gabriel.
"I wanna specifically talk to you about yesterday."
Gabriel froze at the side of the bed and Balthazar also went decidedly still.
"I know you're sorry, that was obvious last night. And you better tell Balthazar that later cause I know I haven't heard you say it to him, but I wanna know why."
"Why you did it."
"It was an accident!" Gabriel exclaimed, tears already forming in his eyes and Dean realised just how raw this was for him. "I didn't mean to! Promise!"
"Whoa, calm down," Dean said, reaching over to grip his shoulder firmly. "I don't mean why you hurt him, I mean why you pushed him in the first place."
Gabriel instantly shrunk under his grip and his little hands balled into fists. "I just…I just wanted to have fun…I wanted Balthazar to play with me…I wanted to be fun…" Little sobs started to escape his throat. "I wanted him to play."
"Dude, he was playing with you. Elaborate."
"I…" Gabriel's shoulders were shaking now and his wings were wrapped tight around himself. "I have to be the most fun…and…and make him and Cas laugh because…because then they like me…and if they like me…they…they won't leave like Father did!"
Dean's eyes sunk shut at that revelation – this was all so messed up – but they flew open again when Balthazar was suddenly launching himself over the side of the bed. His tiny arms wrapped around Gabriel and pulled his brother, wings and all, as close to him as he could. Gabriel started to push away but then the wall broke and he collapsed, bringing Balthazar with him as he fell to his knees, sobbing uncontrollably. Balthazar hushed his older brother, brushing his hair back gently with a hand and holding him tight with the other.
"Oh Gabe," Balthazar whispered, "We won't leave you, we won't. Cassie and I wouldn't. We won't. We won't."
Gabriel twisted and wrapped his arms around Balthazar's neck, returning the hug as hard as he could. The whispers then swapped to Enochian and Dean took that as his cue to leave the room. He pulled on some jeans and a shirt and was nearly at the door when a small hand fisted in his pants. Looking down, he saw both angels still in their embrace, but Gabriel's hand tugging on his jeans. Tears were still streaming down his face so Balthazar took it upon himself to speak.
"Dean, thank you."
"Yeah well, I ain't making a habit of it. You're on your own next time." He had just pulled open the door before a thought crossed his mind. He turned back, a wicked smile on his face. "Oh, but just so you two know," Two heads snapped his way, Gabriel's already forming a sly grin when he saw his expression, "Sam really hates if anything happens to his hair. I mean, you know, if it happened to change colour or…"
The pair grinned at him devilishly. Oh yeah, this was gonna be so sweet.
After yesterday's drama, today seemed like a walk in the park. Because, really, nothing could rival a broken wing. It just couldn't. And no one would even try to top it. Sam had yet to shower but there had been some ominous noises from upstairs before during the time when Bobby had lost track of Gabriel and Balthazar so Dean was sure the result would be awesome. They were so headed for another Winchester prank war.
He was already chuckling to himself as he thought up ideas, sitting out on Bobby's porch, a beer hanging loosely in his hand. The screen door behind him rattled open and the tiny, shuffling steps accompanied by a dragging sound told him exactly who it would be.
"Hey Cas," he greeted, not even bothering to look over his shoulder.
Those tiny feet scuttled closer and then Cas plopped into his lap. Cas had this thing of whenever he sat in your lap, he didn't just sit in it; he had to sit so that he was facing you. Why, Dean wasn't sure, but he figured it probably had something to do with Cas wanting to be able to see your face. Cas was, however, currently toying with the buttons on his shirt, demeanour a little off somehow.
The smallest of all the angels, as in, the kid was probably pushing to be three, met his eyes for a moment before clambering precariously off his lap. He held out a hand. "Come."
Even pint-sized, he ordered instead of asked. His stare was still just as intense though and who was Dean kidding, it was adorable, so he got up, surprising Cas by taking his hand, instead of just seeing it as a gesture to follow. "Lead on little man."
"I'm not…I see, you were making a joke." Cas frowned, before muttering to himself, "I still do not understand how it is amusing."
Cas then led them across the junk yard to an area where there was the best view of the setting sun. He watched sombrely, wings fluttering as if they itched to take him to it but knew they wouldn't be able to. They stood there in silence, Dean knowing that if he waited long enough, Cas would talk. And he was right.
"Raphael…" Cas paused, biting his lip before seemingly pulling himself back together. "When I was younger, your equivalent of perhaps six or seven, Raphael broke my wing."
Dean stiffened, teeth grinding together to stop a growl escaping. "Why?" he hissed.
Cas peered up at him, as if surprised by his anger. "Honestly, I do not know," he admitted. "I believe he was merely being too rough in his play. I have…heard…that his intentions were not so kind. Apparently some believe he did so out of spite."
"Um, okay, but why?" Dean had to ask. "You weren't exactly heaven's most wanted when you were just a kid, right?"
The angel shrugged, tugging his trench coat tight to his chest, a sign that he did, in fact, know. "I have heard that it is believed I was spoiled when I was raised."
"Spoiled?" Dean frowned. "Wait, raised? You guys have parents?"
Cas gave him that look that seemed to say, 'you humans really are dense'. "Angels do not have parents, Dean. We have our Father. But," he went on to explain, "when angels are created, they are placed with other angels to be raised. You would liken it to birds, hence the 'nest'."
Dean opened his mouth and then had to shut it again while he actually tried to process what he was hearing. It took him awhile, but he was pretty sure he finally grasped the concept. Which led him to ask, "so, who was your family?"
Cas stiffened and yeah, war in heaven, probably a bad question. He was about to tell him not to bother when Cas finally answered, though it was more to his trench coat than to Dean. "…the arch angels…"
"Wait, what?!" Dean yanked Cas round to face him, locking their eyes together. "You're telling me that that dick Raphael, and Gabriel, and hell, Michael, raised you?"
"…and Lucifer," came the tiny whisper.
"Luci-…ah, forget it." The hunter ran a hand through his hair. "Then I have no idea how you ended up so freaking normal. You should be the biggest basket case out there." Cas' face contorted into an odd expression but Dean suddenly remembered something that made him cut across. "Wait, if the arch angels raised you, then why is Raphael snapping your wing? What, was he jealous?"
Cas' face was the only answer he needed.
"He was jealous. All powerful arch angel jealous of the new kid on the block. This guy's an even bigger dick than I thought."
"No Cas, he's a friggin' brat. God, I didn't think I could hate that son of a bitch anymore than I already did but…" he shook his head incredulously. He bent down and traced the ridges of Cas' black wings gently. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry for what happened to you. Sam told me how much it hurts, and I never would have wanted you to go through that."
Cas' gave him a puzzled look before giggling, throwing him arms around Dean's neck and squeezing. "Thank you Dean." He then pulled away, turning back towards the sun. "Can we watch the sunset?"
Dean chuckled, ruffling his hair. "Well, I can, but I don't know about you, short stuff."
Cas pouted but Dean simply laughed, scooping the angel up and setting him on his shoulders. Dean threw the angel's trench coat over one shoulder while Cas' hands came to twine in his hair. He twisted it absently as he watched the sun set over the horizon, sky going the most intense shade of orange. Dean smiled, only stopping when he saw their shadow on the ground, their bodies together and then Cas' wings flaring out. He had to admit, that was pretty damn cool.
Which is why, after glancing around to make sure Sam wasn't anywhere nearby, or Gabriel either, the little shit, Dean pulled out his phone and opened up the camera, flipping it around to face him.
"Hey Cas," he called softly, tugging on the angel's baby shoes. "Be human for once and smile."
Cas frowned in confusion and started to open his mouth but Dean just groaned. "Dude, no. Just smile."
It took them awhile – between Cas trying to smile and Dean trying to figure out how to take a goddamn selfie - but they finally got it and Dean had to admit, he would never set it as his background for professional reputation's sake but if he happened to look at it whenever he was feeling down or was missing Cas…well hey, everyone could just shut their cake holes.
A/N: um, so that turned out way longer than I expected but it just kept writing itself. Hope you enjoyed it!