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[personal profile] whit_merule

Previous chapter.

Week 5.

Pridie ides Septembris (September 12).

Note: So, this chapter completely fails at PWP. It’s 13k long, and only about 5k of that is actually in the bedroom. Most of it is rambling family conversation around the table. I blame Charlie, Gabriel, and Family Themes. And also the fact that everybody’s learning to relax now. If you haven’t read the main fic, most of the group conversations before and after the actual sex scene will make no sense; but it might help to know that, while Castiel is living with Sam and Dean, Anna and Gabriel are staying with Charlie for now; that Anna and Charlie have A Thing; and that Gabriel has PTSD which means touching him is generally not a good idea.

 

---

 

“Fuck a goose,” Gabriel exclaimed politely, as he dropped onto the vacant bench opposite Dean in his nice quiet corner of the Roadhouse.

“‘Fuck a duck’ sounds better,” Dean pointed out absently, trying to get this weird plait-knot thing to lie flat. “If you’re into, you know, fowl play.”

Gabriel snorted and kicked his feet up onto the table, at right angles to Dean’s. Ellen wasn’t around, so boots on tables were fair game, so long as you wiped the tabletop down before she noticed. “What poor textile are you butchering today, Winchester?”

Dean flipped him off, unravelled the last few rows (they’d been all lumpy anyway), and handed it over. He’d got the techniques from Missouri, so it was in theory a human design. Gabriel, though, had taken it upon himself to work out how those techniques, intended for large-scale fabrics, could be adapted for something the size and durability of an angel wedding bracelet. He’d supplied the threads, too, because apparently getting the right colours was important and there weren’t that many options in the local dyes.

Apparently Dean was already paying him back by working on removing the stick from Castiel’s ass. Dean wasn’t quite sure he approved of anyone but himself speculating about Castiel’s ass.

He took Gabriel’s casual abuse, bickered lazily back at him, took the occasional swig from the beer mug by his knee, and watched as the carefully casual lines of Gabriel’s shoulders relaxed down into something closer to genuine don’t-give-a-shit.  

No wings visible today: not a good sign. Gabriel had taken to flaunting them, lately,   but the louder and more obnoxiously smart-mouthed a mood he was in, the less likely he was to be flashing feathers. Dean figured it had something to do with bristling hackles being a dead giveaway about the mess inside.

Dean had made a it a rule fairly early on never to ask his brother-in-law-elect how he was doing. Easier all around. ‘Sides, Gabriel had Sammy to trail around after him looking at him with big worried eyes, and Dean knew how that could tire a guy out.

Not that he was thinking about Sam. Not with Gabriel right there. Kind of tricky getting on with a guy when you were looking at him and seeing a brother-stealing monster sneering out from his face.

Dean leaned over, and pinned an escaping thread in place with his thumb. “So when’re you two heading out?” he tried, all casual and civilised and like it didn’t matter to him at all because Dean was cool.

Gabriel snagged the thread back in and knotted it in place with rough, nimble fingers. “Whenever you two crazy lovebirds stop playing coy and swap these lovely baubles. See, this is your problem - you’re letting the slip stitch every third pass turn you around, so you’re swapping woof for warp all the time.”

“Wait, wait.” Dean wasn’t prepared for the sweet little rush of relief - wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. “You’re sticking around for the wedding? Both weddings?”

“Can’t have your poor delicate ass sleeping rough every night all the way to meet the in-laws.” Gabriel’s eyebrows waggled suggestively, and what was with him going on about his and Cas’ asses all the time? “What, you expected me to let you take him without slipping a good old-fashioned ‘hurt him and you’ll vomit up your bowels’ curse into the wedding cup?”

Dean smirked at him. “Aw, honey, you do care.”

Gabriel flipped him off with thread-tangled fingers, and Dean resisted the urge to mutter that his ass wasn’t that delicate. After all, right now it wasn’t exactly true. And Gabriel never got to know that.

(Dean still wasn’t quite sold on that whole - thing - even if he thought he’d kind of like to be. Castiel sure made it look like fun, the way he arched and writhed and ground down on Dean’s fingers, the way his voice broke when he begged for more. And Castiel touching (or, fuck, licking) the outside felt good, really good, even while Dean squirmed and tried to pretend it wasn’t happening because it was weird. Only Dean couldn’t persuade his body to just open up like Castiel’s would. Last night he’d had to tell Castiel to stop because it had hurt, the kind of hurt that you couldn’t just push through, the kind that was a warning. And besides, there were always better things Castiel could be doing with those hands. Like jerking Dean off.)

“So I hear you taught him to make real cookies last week,” Gabriel commented. “And by hear I mean I ate them.”

Dean swung his feet down off the table to stretch them out along the bench, lounging back against the wall, mostly because it meant he could discreetly shade his crotch with his arm. “Cookie-dough fights and all. You guys really don’t have cookies back in angel-land?”

“Wrong ovens, and not enough sugar,” Gabriel opined, winding the threads in complicated loops around his fingers without meeting Dean’s eye. “Ours is a hard and lonely destiny. Why’d he think he had to steal them anyway, instead of just taking them?”

“Huh, he said that?” Dean ducked his head and scratched at his ear, to hide the stupid warm grin. “Might have gone on a bit about how they aren’t really cookies unless you eat more dough than cookie and steal them from the jar after. Guy’s a quick study.”

Charlie materialised beside the table, a bright flare of red hair and yellow scarf and cheerfulness against the old woods and shadows of the Roadhouse. Four pint glasses of cider were clamped between her long fingers.

“What’re you ladies brooding about over in your little corner?”

“Woes and tragedies of yore,” Gabriel shot back easily, feet thudding to the ground as he slid over to make room for her on his bench. “None for me, apple nymph, I’m pretending to be a good man.”

Charlie snorted and pushed two of the glasses over to him, as Dean stole his bracelet-to-be back. “Okay? That’s... sweet, if not faintly terrifying. It’s my cider. Drink.”

“Can’t argue with a lady,” Gabriel decided virtuously, which was a flat lie, and downed half of the first glass in a couple of gulps.

Dean accepted his own glass and watched them trade colourful little anecdotes of the day for a while. It was easy to watch, easier still to just sit there and have nothing that he needed to do or worry over. The mug of beer he’d drunk already was seeping warm into his blood, just enough to be comfortable.

He settled into the unexpected sense of general well-being: rare and hard-earned, it felt, and somehow still easy. Good company, and good drink, and Castiel should be along soon, which was a pleasant sort of warmth to Dean’s stomach all of its own. And he got to keep Sam for weeks yet, to have him by his side the first time Dean ventured Outside. And it was different, if they went to the angels’ home together and Gabriel and Sam then left from there. That wasn’t Dean staying at home and seeing his brother ride away into the dust. It was Dean and Sam just... doing their own thing. Different adventures, or something. Maybe it wouldn’t feel like it was any better when he got back to an empty house, but - Castiel would still be with him. Husband.

He’d make do. Still a hell of a better prospect for either of them than Dean had expected four months ago.

And, huh, another thing he’d never expected: to be sitting in the Roadhouse, listening to an ‘I’d hit that’ conversation about girls, when one of the people arguing was, well, a girl.

“Come on, Dean,” Charlie wheedled. “Jo or Pamela? You know, if you had to? And they were both into it?”

“Uh-uh, guys,” because Dean wasn’t stupid enough to weigh in one way or another to decide that stalemate, and also it’d probably get back to Jo and Pamela and Castiel, “there’s only two people at this table who can appreciate boobs.”

“It’s not the boobs,” Gabriel was already explaining, earnest except for the evil glint in his eyes. “Well, yeah, okay, it’s the boobs, but have you seen the way she carries herself? I like a woman who knows what she wants.”

Charlie’s sense of humour wasn’t as pointed as Gabriel’s, but somehow it seemed to take the harsher edge off his, like the eager warmth of her responses made it not so important that absolutely every character flaw be observed and dissected for the class. And she looked good, too: something about her smile, about the way she talked with her hands, looked happier and more open than when Dean had first started noticing her a couple of months back.  

Like everything was pretty okay, really.

But, hey, she wouldn’t be the only one to feel that way. Dean wasn’t just being all smug and betrothed when he figured that they’d done good here, all of them, getting things to this state. Treaties, and promises, and hope.

He sipped his cider slow, rolling the half-sour flavour on his tongue, and revelled in the rise and fall of Charlie’s and Gabriel’s voices, the hum of conversation around and behind them: revelled in the sheer fucking novelty of it not being about who died this week, or what to do for the family who’s lost all their strong working arms, or any shit like that. For the first time in - hell, as long as he could remember - Dean could look forward at the future and like what he saw there: could sit here, fingers tangled in the threads of something that meant a promise he was making, in the company of friends who weren’t asking anything of him, and wait with pleasure for the future to come.

Although - “You need a contrast colour in there,” Gabriel decided loftily, and reached across the table to grab Dean’s jaw. “To bring out the spice.”

“Dude,” Dean complained, as his face was tilted this way and that.

“Gold,” Gabriel decided, squinting at his eyes, then let go and chucked him under the chin, because for a guy with a phobia for being touched he sure liked to make a nuisance of himself with his hands.

“I don’t know,” Charlie offered, chin on her hand and hair falling casually into her cider. “I think he’s more of a bronze kind of girl, don’t you?”

“Who the hell makes bronze thread?”

“Details,” Gabriel yawned, with a dismissive flick of his fingers. “Gold is sparklier.”

Charlie made a thoughtful noise, like she couldn’t argue with sparkliness.

Dean squinted at the bracelet, at the dark greens and earthy shades of red and brown that Gabriel had said felt right for Dean. He wasn’t sure if that was meant to be some kind of special archangel-vision ‘this is what colour your wings would be if you had them’ analysis, or just colours Gabriel thought was pretty. Although, he privately thought that he’d look pretty awesome with big wings like this.

“I don’t sparkle,” he said firmly. “Bronze maybe. If there’s any in Gabriel’s stash. Also, hey,” as Gabriel started in on his second glass. “How come he gets two pints?”

“Because he needs it more? Have you ever tried getting Castiel drunk?”  

And, huh, there was an interesting thought. Castiel, all loose-limbed and greedy the way he went when he was really far gone and demanding that Dean stop teasing and just push his fingers inside him already, only not from lust (or not only, or not at first): maybe draping himself over Dean because he’d be a grabby drunk, and probably an argumentative one, and if Dean were to slip sly cool hands under his shirt to run them over his stomach...

“Uh,” Dean replied intelligently, which was apparently all Charlie needed.

“Don’t,” she advised blithely. “Him and Anna, between them? They can drink their way through anything I’ve got in the house in one night.”

Gabriel smirked back at her, smooth as ever, except for a wary sort of softness about his eyes. “Funny how hard it is to keep track of your pints when somebody keeps refilling your glass every second candle mark.”

Dean shifted uneasily, and not just because of the hopeful chubbiness of his dick. “Yeah, sorry about that. We don’t really have room.”

After all, Anna and Charlie were... whatever (even if Dean still didn’t really get how that worked), and if they felt anything like he and Castiel did then a third person in the house would definitely be one person too many.

“Hey, no skin off my nose.” Charlie brushed off a long strand of hair caught against her mouth, looking a little puzzled. “I like having them about. Makes the place feel... well, homey again.”

Gabriel was looking at Dean funny, as if he’d done something unexpected and maybe a bit dangerous. Dean gave him a ‘what?’ sort of scowl, and suggested gruffly, “We always planned to build another couple of rooms off the east wall of the house, whenever Sam managed to get around to finding himself a wife. Kids, family, whatever. Guess that’s probably off the cards now, but Cas and me, we could maybe rig something up. By the time you two get back here next, I mean.”

There was a moment of silence. Then Gabriel laughed, a sudden too-loud bark.

“Wow. Seriously, kid? The hell would you want to lock the two of us in the same house for?”

And there was the sarcasm shield up again. Dean remembered just in time not to kick him under the table. “Because Castiel said angel families all live together in a big house-tower-rock-hive thing. Dick.”

Gabriel’s eyes went narrow, and he did that little scrutinising head tilt that was a perfect match for Castiel’s, except for the eye colour and the fact that it didn’t make Dean want to break out into a goofy smile.

“Huh,” Charlie commented, sort of dreamily, in her usual let’s-pretend-that-tension-right-there-doesn’t-exist way. “I’d like to see a tower. You guys should take me sometime, maybe?”

“That... don’t really include archangels,” Gabriel said to Dean, very carefully, as if it was the last of a very complicated list of things he could have said instead.

“Yeah?” Dean smirked at him adorably over the rim of his glass. “Bet it doesn’t usually include humans either, sport. Tag along if you’re up for it, Charlie.”

“Not at this time of year,” Charlie sighed, then her eyes went wicked. “Besides, Anna’s staying. I want to see what she looks like in the snow.”

“Family,” Gabriel demanded flatly. “Really?”

Which - well, Dean wasn’t going to get dragged into all of Gabriel’s hang-ups and woes. Gabriel was Sam’s, and Castiel’s, and Castiel and Sam were Dean’s, and he had to make nice with Gabriel because Sam got all scowly and glum if he didn’t. Simple as that.  

Besides. There weren’t many other people who could call Dean on his (very occasional) shit without making it worse. And if Dean really needed him to shut up he would, because Gabriel sometimes needed the world to shut up too, for most of the same reasons. And the guy could tell a mean story, and also he was handy for things like advice about bracelets and terrifying books about sex.

It wasn’t like Dean had been saying he was family, or anything. Just... like family. Or something. No need to be looking at him like that.

“It was just a suggestion,” he muttered into his drink. “Sheesh.”

“Hey angel,” Charlie called out across the room, and Dean’s head snapped up.

“Well, someone’s being a grumpy hedgehog,” Gabriel commented sunnily, as if that meant everything was right with the world again and also the previous conversation had definitely never happened.

And yes, Castiel was standing in the door, all stiff and ruffled and irritable, and suddenly the rest of the room was a boring mess of background noise.

Funny thing about looking at Castiel in public: it was almost impossible to see Dean’s Castiel there. Oh, it was the same lean body, the pale tan shape of his tunic against the door and the soft dark fall of his wings in the shadows behind. It was the same long hands hanging a bit awkward by his side, the same killer cheekbones and careless scruff on his face, the same dry, tempting lips and penetrating stare. Only the parts didn’t add up to the same whole, not here. In public he was all clean lines and distant courtesy - or, right now, barely reined-in scowls. You had to squint and imagine to cover this Castiel with the vision of the sleepy one in Dean’s kitchen of a morning, all soft contented grumble and slouch.  

And certainly there was nothing here of the creature that stretched out naked in Dean’s bed and made demands with every line of his body and revelled in the power of it, with his hot dark eyes and the voice that took Dean’s breath away, until Castiel remembered who he was meant to be and got all embarrassed and clumsy. Only Dean got to see that.

Castiel looked over at Charlie’s hail, but it was Dean’s face that his eyes caught on.

He looked tired.

Dean tucked the bracelet out of sight and lounged back on the bench, making the space next to him obvious and inviting, holding out an arm to beckon Castiel over. Castiel held his gaze for a minute, distant and impassive; then, without any change of expression, he picked his way over to them, shuffling awkwardly between the tables.

But this was Dean’s Castiel too - the guy who got all stiff in public because people, human and angelic, always perplexed him, even the ones he liked. The hard-ass warrior guy who got pissy over not getting enough sugar in his drink or Dean laughing at his bedhead in the morning, but whom Dean had never yet seen actually angry. Even if sometimes he went away somewhere far off in his head, and Dean wasn’t quite sure yet how to pull him back, it didn’t really matter, in the end. He was still there, and he was still Dean’s.

Castiel didn’t sit. He just loomed up behind Dean’s bench and placed a heavy, warm hand on Dean’s shoulder, as Dean craned back to see his face. Something private and comfortable clicked into place inside Dean at the touch.

“What crawled up your ass and died?” Gabriel greeted him.

Castiel blinked back, then scowled. It was the ‘I don’t have the patience for your crap’ scowl. Dean knew it well.  

“Nothing has been in my ass, Gabriel.”

Gabriel whistled, all exaggerated and sympathetic. “What, still? No wonder you’re all -”

“Okay!” Dean cut in, too loudly, and slid his hands around to nestle in the familiar, enticing valley of Castiel’s back. The muscles under his fingers were stiff and rigid. Could Dean go all charming and adorable and tease him out of it? Sometimes in bed it wound Castiel up the wrong way, because apparently even though they both liked lying together kissing for a long time all bets were off once mouths start wandering other places, and Castiel wasn’t really the most patient of guys. “What’s up, man? Shitty day?”

“Obstructive attitudes and a preference for perpetuating pointless quarrels over getting work done,” Castiel growled.

“Humans do have these awkward things called opinions,” Gabriel agreed wisely, earning himself another hot blue glare because he really was a little shit.

Dean made an ‘I hear you man’ sort of noise, and drew his hand up to bury it deep in the soft thick feathers just behind the base of Castiel’s wing, since stroking his wings seemed to help him relax when they were alone. The effect was immediate: Castiel went stiff for a moment, then all the tension rushed out of him so quickly that he actually swayed, with a breathy exhale that almost sounded like the sort of noise he’d make in bed. And there - there was Dean’s angel, alive and warm under Dean’s hand. Even if Dean still wasn’t quite sure how to reach him.

“Weren’t you working on some kind of demon-tracking map with Demian and Andy and Ash and Jo?” Charlie was saying somewhere, but it took the space of a few deep breaths for Castiel to respond.

Gabriel’s glass had paused halfway to his lips, and he was staring at Dean and Dean’s hand with an expression that said he was busy finding something terrifyingly hilarious. Well, screw him, Dean was allowed to touch his betrothed in public if he wanted. In fact, he was halfway tempted to go with Charlie’s suggestion and try getting Castiel drunk. Just to help with the relaxing, of course.

“I shouldn’t have to tell you,” Castiel muttered, rumbling along at the pitch of a growl but with all the venom gone out of it, so that it felt more like a purr than anything else, “how many hours a day those civilians could spend arguing, left to themselves.”

“Jo isn’t a civilian,” Charlie pointed out, puzzled like she was trying not to ask why ‘civilian’ was a bad word all of a sudden.

“Where’s the fire, little phoenix?” Gabriel asked sweetly.

Castiel flushed red, and his wing flinched away from Dean’s hand. Then Dean was being hauled abruptly up from the bench by the collar of his shirt which, whoa, hello inappropriate public pants-tenting.

“Yes, Dean,” Castiel said deadpan, glaring at his brother, who was leaning back against the wall and smirking. “This has been a ‘shitty day’. I suggest we terminate it. With sex.”

Charlie choked on her drink.

“Uh,” Dean replied classily, because his feet were suddenly being inexplicably clumsy and Castiel’s hand was clamped on the back of his neck. “Yes. Right. Sorry, guys, gotta go look after my angel.”  

Gabriel tossed off a salute and a “Well, hey, don’t let us stop you,” and Charlie rallied around with a cheerful “Have good sex!”, and Castiel was half dragging him away and people were looking and it was unexpectedly difficult to swagger because you’re about to get laid when you’re half hard, and also blushing.

... Not that Dean ever blushed.

In deference to the practicalities of walking, the hand on Dean’s neck migrated downwards to lock onto his belt. Dean could feel it all the same, a hot possessive promise pressed up against his spine, all the way back to the house.

And. Okay. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to have sex - it definitely wasn’t that - just that, sometimes when Castiel got all grabby like this it was... a bit disconcerting. Maybe. And also hot. But disconcerting too. Because Dean knew that Castiel wanted, well, more. Even just in the last week there’d been a hell of a lot of more, which, hey, Dean wasn’t arguing with that, that had all been awesome, but they hardly ever said anything about it. And there was that book that Gabriel had given Dean, way back when he’d just been getting a clue, and some of the things guys were doing to each other in the pictures were just downright scary, okay? And Dean’s ass was still kind of twitchy after Castiel had gotten a bit too impatient last night, and - what if they were past all the nice slow kissing and just wrapping themselves around each other until they came, and just had to keep going until they reached all those complicated uncomfortable rough acts where everybody’s legs were all tangled up and there was no way you’d be able to see each other’s eyes?  

Not that he thought Castiel would make him do anything, not exactly. Just. What if that was what Castiel was expecting - waiting for?

Sam was in the kitchen, starting on dinner. Castiel didn’t even look at him, just stomped into their bedroom without a word, leaving the door open behind him. Dean lingered for a minute to stick his head into the kitchen.

“Hey. How long until...?”

Sam had paused, halfway through an onion, head cocked to listen with a bit of a frown. “About an hour, I think. Cas okay?”

“Feathers ruffled.” Dean hesitated for a moment. “And, uh. He’s not the only one. Gabriel was looking pretty hard around the eyes too. Give us a five-minute call went you’re nearly done, yeah? We’re just gonna - uh - I’ll shut the door.”

Sam pulled an ‘I don’t need to know, Dean’ face, and Dean grinned charmingly at him and ducked out.

He was almost to that temptingly open door when Sam called out, “Dean? Okay if I ask Gabriel over to eat?”

Dean shoved away the familiar little chill of panic at the sound of Gabriel’s name in Sam’s voice. He’d almost entirely managed to avoid being around both of them at once, the past couple of weeks. One or the other alone was fine now - that was just Sam or just Gabriel. Dean could handle it. Put them both in the same room together, though, and force Dean to watch them swap words and glances, the way Gabriel leaned in toward Sam just a bit whenever he said something he thought was funny, the way Sam always glanced at Gabriel first when he wasn’t sure about something...

Then again, this might be the first time he’d mentioned Gabriel to Sam in, well. About that long.

... Dean Winchester wasn’t a fucking coward, okay? And he could be civilised if he wanted to.

He cleared his throat.  

“Cas? You good with that?”

“Of course, Dean,” came the reply at once, crisp and irritated. “Why would I not be.”

Because you’re crabby and he makes you crabbier, Dean didn’t say, because sometimes he wasn’t an idiot, and also if he could work out how to do his husbandly job right Castiel should be all blissed out and relaxed by then.

“Have a good bakefest!” he tossed over his shoulder, and felt the heat of Sam’s bitchface on the back of his neck as he slipped into the bedroom and closed the door.

Castiel looked up.

Dean’s dick went all the way to hard far too fast, which was a habit that was going to get exhausting if it kept it up for, you know, the rest of their lives together.

Castiel was already halfway naked: long pale expanses of skin curving down his sides and vanishing into the V of his open pants, bare toes curling into the thick rag rug on the floor. He was unknotting his belt, shoulders hunched forward and head half lowered, eyes hot on Dean under thick dark lashes. It made his body look like one tight curve - all frustration and control, wings half-lifted - like something poised to flee. Or to pounce.

“We should have sex now,” he announced decidedly.

Dean swallowed thickly. “Yeah,” he agreed, then, “yeah, I mighta worked that bit out myself.”

Castiel sighed a bit, like the world was an aggravating and tiresome place, and Dean stepped forward to curl his hands around Castiel’s on the thick twisted linen of his belt, to coax Castiel’s mouth with little soft nudges up to close with his.  

Castiel sighed into that, too, but it was a different kind of sigh, sort of hungry and satisfied all at once. Dean was beginning to think that Castiel might have a whole language of sighs, just like he had one of glares, and of ways to say Dean’s name. Every time he thought he had Castiel-comprehension nailed, Dean kept finding more and more little mysteries of him to unravel.

Castiel’s lips dragged against his, slow and weirdly distant still, like he wasn’t here quite as much as he usually was. Even though he was, well, right here.

Dean kissed the side of his mouth, then his lower lip, then his nose, nudging in just enough to dent it, to feel the damp catch of his lips on skin and stubble. It felt like a question, or something - sort of suspended, quiet. Just them. Just here.

Castiel made a grumbling noise that sounded more like him. So Dean laughed a bit against his cheek and brought one hand up to cup the side of his face while Dean laid a slow trail of kisses along Castiel’s jaw towards his ear, because fuck but he loved that little angle, and the tingle of that stubble against his lips.

There was a brush of movement against his tunic, then Castiel’s free hand slid up Dean’s back to settle over the base of his left shoulder blade. Just where the wing would have sprouted, if he’d had them.

“You’re going to insist on teasing me, aren’t you,” Castiel murmured against his ear, sounding more resigned than disapproving.

Dean’s heart gave a fond, aching thud against the inside of his chest. He squeezed the hand he still held, and it opened and turned just enough that their fingers slotted in together.

“Damn straight. You look like nobody’s bothered to stop and notice you all day, not under all that stiff Captain Cas armour you’re sporting.”

Castiel made a considering noise, cheek scraping against Dean’s as he turned his head until their noses bumped.

“And you do, I suppose?”

It wasn’t really a question; but, “Every time,” Dean promised, gruff, and, “’S my job,” catching at Castiel’s upper lip with both of his. It stretched into a smile, pulling out of the clumsy angle of Dean’s kiss. Castiel’s body, though, swayed forward just far enough for Dean to feel the warmth of him all down his chest and belly and thighs, so that was okay.

“Dean Winchester, you are a gentleman,” Castiel said gravely, lips and breath teasing at Dean’s cheek. “Though you hide it very well.”

Dean cackled and bit at his mouth, giddy with triumph and delight and the hot temptation of Castiel’s body. “Screw you,” he tried to reply, but it was lost in the shove of Castiel’s mouth and the earthy, rich taste of him as he suddenly opened up and took possession.

Dean suspected there were very few things in the world as good as the eager heat inside Castiel’s mouth. But high among them would be the strain and flex of his naked back when Dean grabbed at it with hungry hands, the shuff of wings flaring as he stumbled. Then there was the wonderful awkwardness of trying to get Dean’s shirt and jacket off, four hands all getting in each other’s way, and the wet little gasps and collisions of two mouths trying their best not to let go of each other in the process. And there was the furious glint in Castiel’s eyes when he finally flung the offending clothes off into the corner and hauled Dean in with his hands locked around Dean’s face, pinning him still to devour his mouth for long, determined minutes. And then, when Dean took advantage of Castiel’s sensitive belly and sides to make him flinch away and loose his hold, then there was the groan Castiel made when his back hit the wall. And best of all, maybe, the way his eyes went shock-bright as Dean sank to his knees and nuzzled, still half laughing, at the dark trail of soft thick curls, not quite like a human’s, leading down into the gaping front of his pants.

“Can I?” he breathed, with his most winning smile, cheek pressed warm against the top of Castiel’s thigh. Because he did enjoy the teasing, finding long and circuitous routes just to make Castiel make all his noises and faces; but not right now.  

Castiel blinked down at him, then gave him as flat and withering a look as he could rustle up when he was adorably rumpled and breathless and red.

“Sometimes I despair of your intelligence,” he growled, so Dean bit his stomach, and earned himself a wonderfully indignant squawk.

There was a hand tugging at his hair too, but Dean rather liked that, so he decided to take it as encouragement and kissed the spot he’d bitten. Then he kissed it again, then licked it, thumbs rubbing absent circles at the insides of Castiel’s knees. And all the while Castiel made ‘why do I put up with you’ noises and scratched his nails deliciously and restlessly through Dean’s hair.

Dean liked this. No, he loved this - the way it was starting to feel like something familiar. Still all discovery, all thrill and realisation, but it wasn’t that hurried, frantic fumble anymore. Now, Dean was getting the hang of how Castiel’s body worked, of what all his noises meant and what he was feeling, so it was like they were talking even when they weren’t. And he was starting to work out how he could move his own body, even outside the bedroom, to draw Castiel’s eyes to him and make them flash dark: to make himself feel like the most powerful, desirable thing in the world, in the heat of that gaze.  

Now it wasn’t just about the shock of forbidden skin under Dean’s hands, or about strange hands on Dean’s flesh: it was something Dean and Castiel were doing together. Dancing without words. Or some shit like that.

Dean nosed in at the opening of Castiel’s pants, nudging at the shadowed places barely veiled by the fabric, revelling in the scent trapped in the hairs that tickled his lips. There was a lot about this whole sex thing that was unfamiliar still, but hell, the smell of an erect dick had meant nothing but good things since Dean had been old enough to find out, and it was even better when it belonged to Castiel.

Castiel groaned and slumped back against the wall, legs going wide under Dean’s hands. Which, huh - opened up that whole front area to Dean, like an invitation to just do whatever the hell he wanted, and... fuck, yes.

Dean let go of one knee long enough to fumble his own pants open, because there was some uncomfortable tightness going on down there, and - shit. Just that one brush of his own hand was almost enough to...  

Castiel rolled his hips forward with a heavy moan, pressing the thick damp weight of his clothed dick against Dean’s mouth, almost into it; and Dean realised that he was panting heavily into Castiel’s crotch, moaning himself at the shockingly good slide of his hands up and down his own overheated cock. But, fuck, with Castiel right there - hell, that was even better, that smell, that weight, that -

Dean scrabbled with his free hand, shoving Castiel’s pants down over the sweet curve of his ass, tugging them down his thighs until they fell away from his dick and Dean could dive in and get his mouth on it properly.

The taste of it exploded into his mouth, sharp and strong with the day’s sweat. Castiel let out a muffled shout, the muscles of his belly jumping against Dean’s forehead. Dean groaned with him, mouthing his way up the silk-slick length of him, aiming for where he knew the taste would be freshest and Castiel’s breath would turn to growls and sobs.

Castiel’s thigh flexed under Dean’s hand, muscles bunching and straining under his skin. And it would take such a little movement for him to shove his hips forward, inside Dean’s mouth, and just push - it was actually harder not to jerk your hips up than to stay still, Dean had found. And it would take so little strength for that hand tugging desperately at Dean’s hair to fasten its hold and drag Dean’s head just where Castiel wanted it; but he kept still, breath hitching little hiccuping groans and dick barely rubbing against Dean’s lips as Dean reached up his free hand to hold it still, reached that little spot right under the head, and kissed him there.

At the sound Castiel made then, Dean had to squeeze his own dick hard to hold off - he didn’t want to finish yet, not without Castiel. And not like this: this was good, but there was something missing, something else he wanted tonight that he couldn’t quite think of right now. But the drag of his hand up and down was making him see sparks, and - shit, the way Castiel was just fucking moaning, the pleading little rolls of his hips that rocked Dean’s mouth back and forth between that one little bundle of nerves and the desperately weeping slit...

Dean kissed it, and kissed it again, wet and sloppy, more open every time as he caught at the wetness leaking under his mouth, tongue pushing out to lap it up where it tried to run down that little crevice to escape. It was dizzying, and ridiculous, and messy. And Dean knew he couldn’t fit the whole thing in his mouth without killing his jaw, so he wasn’t even trying, but on each little roll of Castiel’s hips Dean’s mouth was opening wider and wider over him anyway. Lips flaring out over the head, tongue flattened under its hot pulse, spit squeezed out around the edges to run down Dean’s chin and over his fingers. Greedy for more.  

“Dean,” Castiel gasped out, utterly wrecked, and Dean couldn’t help but grin.

Which wasn’t really a good idea, because, well, teeth. And Dean knew exactly how that felt, so he was flinching back and away from the little scrape almost before Castiel yelped and tugged too hard at his hair.

“Sorry,” he gasped, mouth tingling and too empty, and pressed a kiss into the crease between thigh and hip. “Sorry. Okay?”

Castiel gasped at him inarticulately, and sort of shoved his head sideways until he was nosing up against the mess of dark, glossy curls again, so it couldn’t have been too bad. And lapping apologetic little licks all the way around the ridge under the head seemed pretty damn welcome. It wasn’t long before Dean had to let go of his own dick altogether, because Castiel was grabbing for his hand and tugging it firmly up to slide in under his wing and get all oily; and, well, what could a dutiful husband do with a hint like that?

He mouthed his way down sloppily to nuzzle at the top of Castiel’s balls as he felt around behind them, slippery fingers skidding back until they caught on the puckered little snag there. Castiel cried out, jerking forward so hard that his hipbone caught Dean a stunning blow on the nose. Dean barely had time to register the flash of pain before Gabriel was calling back, loud and clear from the other side of the door, “View halloo! Tally-ho, boys!”

There was a moment’s silence.

Castiel stared down at Dean, mouth hanging open and eyes blown wide with horror and arousal. Dean stared back, from an angle that had Castiel’s dick bobbing agitatedly right in front of his face.

Then, “Fuck,” Dean said, all muffled in the hands clamped over his nose, and burst out laughing.

“Dean!” Castiel hissed, agitated, and hauled him to his feet. The surge of healing power tingled like snow through Dean’s blood, chasing the damage away to nothing even before he was upright, so Dean grinned a slightly bloodied grin at the worry in his angel’s face and kissed him. Because this was what had been missing: Castiel’s dick was awesome, but right now Dean wanted to look into Castiel’s eyes, drink those gasps from his mouth. He wanted Castiel to feel it. That they were both in this together.

Castiel’s mouth slipped against his, wet and uncertain. It pressed a smaller kiss in against the side of Dean’s mouth, and made a formless questioning kind of noise.

“Dean,” Castiel said gruffly, and hell, that was Diffident Cas again, not Dean’s fierce, demanding angel. “Gabriel is listening.”

Dean pulled back and squinted at him. It was weird to think of the guy who could spread his legs and lift his hips and order Dean to stick fingers up his ass as modest, but - well, Castiel hardly ever talked about himself or his feelings if he could help it, so maybe not modest so much as private.

Castiel was scowling, eyes hot and deep and halfway shuttered, and - screw it. Castiel was horny, and Dean was horny, and this was Dean’s house and Dean’s room.

“Hey, Gabriel, you got your ears on?”

“The cows down by the culvert gate have their ears on for this, my noisy little bloodhounds,” Gabriel called back cheerfully, because he was a dick and a big brother and maybe kind of hilarious even if Sam and Castiel wouldn’t appreciate it.

Castiel groaned, and his head fell back against the wall with a thunk.

“Cas,” Dean wheedled through a grin he couldn’t shake off, and stole Castiel’s hands to press a kiss to the knuckles. “Come on, man, these walls are freaking thick. Ten to one he can’t actually hear anything except the shouts.”

Castiel’s eyes settled on him - his eyes, his mouth - then slid away into the corner of the room, where Dean’s shirt was sprawled over Castiel’s trunk. Then they flicked back again to Dean’s face, like they couldn’t stay away. Dean smirked at him, bright and happy, and traced the fine bones on the back of his hand with his lips.

There was a little soft something tugging at the side of Castiel’s mouth, and Dean was happy to take all the credit for that.

“Dean,” Castiel muttered, still wearing that little crease between his eyebrows that meant he wasn’t really on board, or at least wasn’t really sure he wanted to be. “Have you forgotten again how much better his ears are than yours?”

Which, yes, okay, maybe he had, but Gabriel had important kitchen duties to do, and Dean had an almost-husband to look after.

He tugged at Castiel’s earlobe, which got him an automatic scowl but freed up that reluctant little smile to spread out across Castiel’s mouth. “So you’re gonna have to keep extra quiet, then,” he suggested. He stepped back, drawing Castiel’s hands with him, thrilling to the way Castiel’s eyes slid hot over his bare chest. “Come to bed”, he added, lower, cocky, and let his hips swing a bit, let Castiel look.

It felt a bit stupid, honestly, posing and showing off, but the way it made Castiel’s throat jump and his hands tighten in Dean’s was anything but stupid.

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Castiel complained, which was honestly kind of cute, because he was still smiling even as his tongue ducked out to flicker wet and pink over his lips. And he was shaking the crumpled pants off first one foot then the other like a cat with wet paws and stepping forward after Dean, all long lean muscle and velvet-dark hair and feathers, and oh yeah, Dean was totally getting some of that.

He let go of Castiel’s hands, just to shove down his own pants where they hung loose on his hips, but he wasn’t given a chance. Castiel was on him too quickly, a sudden rush of hands and mouth and hot, powerful body, and Dean was sprawling backward onto the bed with a grunt.

“You should keep quiet,” Castiel admonished him, eyes glinting smug and promising up from where he was looming between Dean’s knees. Then he caught Dean by the waist, shoved him effortlessly back up the bed so only his feet were hanging off (shit) and set meticulously about unpicking the laces of Dean’s boots.

Dean watched him at it, mouth open and heart pounding. Castiel was tipping his head forward to hide the little smile he got every time he caught Dean’s eye. Everything about him was distracting and delicious: the quick clever flickers of his fingers as he drew Dean’s boots off, the dark flush of his cock heavy between his legs. The little dark curls on his chest that Dean itched to draw his fingers through, because they fascinated him, the way Castiel’s body hair grew where it was thick in close, lush little locks, that looked almost more like down feathers than real hair.

“Hey,” Dean drawled, the single syllable dragging out into a deep slow rasp. “What’s a phoenix?”

Castiel shot him a furtive sort of a glance, fingers skimming low over Dean’s ankle. “A legendary bird that incinerates itself with its excess of ill-timed passion. And sometimes the others around it.”

“Huh.” Dean rolled his shoulders luxuriously against the mattress to make Castiel look again, lifted his foot to help dislodge the second boot, then caught at Castiel’s hip with his toes. “So Gabriel...?”

Castiel looked shifty, in an embarrassed sort of way, because he was the only person Dean knew who could be badass at the same time as making Dean want to scruff his hair up and pinch his cheeks. “Gabriel was implying that we were - that I was enjoying your touch more than was appropriate in public.”

Dean smirked. Castiel tried to distract him by hooking his thumbs into the ankles of Dean’s pants and tugging, which had Dean’s ass sliding back down the bed until Dean flailed and grabbed at the bed post. Castiel smirked back, his own evil subtle little one, and Dean wanted very badly to kiss it off him.

“Come on, man,” he groaned, lifting his hips to beg.

Castiel’s hand closed firm and real around his thigh. Two more tugs had Dean’s legs bare and Castiel clambering forward over him, wings blocking out the ceiling. And fuck but he was beautiful.

“Hey there,” Dean murmured, soft around the edges, and brought his hands up to comb through the mess of feathers behind Castiel’s shoulders. “You’re all ruffled up. C’mere.”

It was a bone-deep satisfaction, having Castiel’s solid weight settle down on top of him, cradled between his legs and pressed to his stomach and chest. The slide of their dicks together sent a tingling shock through Dean’s body, set him aching and panting. Better than that, though, was the thick press of feathers around both hands, the soft touch of Castiel’s fingers against Dean’s cheek, and the warm, familiar sweetness of his mouth.

Dean Winchester was turning into a sap, and he didn’t give a shit. Because this was his best friend, right here, and he loved him, and just kissing him like this was the best fucking thing ever.

Castiel kissed him again, soft and careful. Then he pressed their foreheads together and wriggled a bit, like he was trying to find just the right slide of skin on skin between their stomachs, or maybe just trying to burrow out his own new Cas-shaped space between Dean’s thighs, right in the cradle of his hips.  

Dean made a noise and rocked up into him, sliding his feet up the bed to open that space up, to keep Castiel close. The fire was racing in his blood now: every little bump and shove of Castiel’s dick or belly was almost enough, almost rocking him right over the edge. And Castiel wasn’t far off either: Dean could tell, because he knew him, he knew the way his breathing changed into little growled pants, the way his fingers curled to dig in like claws to the mattress and Dean’s cheek. The way the movements of his body went sinuous and strong as water, like he could keep on forever and grind Dean down to nothing.

Castiel lifted his head, and blinked his eyes open to meet Dean’s.

And there. There he was: all the stiffness and irritability of the day chased out, so that his eyes could speak plain and wide and clear. And they said you exasperate me, and you astonish me, and you are a gift I never thought I would receive, and you make me very happy. And also I am very close to coming, Dean, don’t stop moving, because Castiel had priorities.

Dean found he was suddenly blinking back tears.

Castiel’s eyes narrowed into that bemused little squinty thing, just for a minute. Then they went all soft and wondrous, so deep Dean thought he might never find the bottom of them. And, shit, Castiel could see him too, like this: nothing up between them, nothing closed off, and it was terrifying, and Dean had no idea how anybody was meant to live without it.  

He dragged Castiel back down to his mouth with a fistful of feathers in each hand, and together they worked out a rhythm: the steady, hungry surge of body against body, thigh against inner thigh, and breath for breath.

So ridiculously simple, in the middle of everything.  

He could feel Castiel’s heart beating there, strong and deep against Dean’s. Every breath and every private smile was right there on his mouth, all the little hitches and groans every time they moved their hips together just right, and the stifled little frustrations every time Castiel remembered he had to keep his voice down. And Dean could feel the throb of blood in Castiel’s dick where it shoved in against his, and in the big blood vessels in the wings: all Castiel’s impatience, and all his desires.

And Castiel could feel all that in Dean too, and that was okay, that was more than okay. Dean didn’t have to hide it, or pretend that this wasn’t what he wanted more than anything in the world: this. Just Castiel, just like this. For himself. Not for Sam, or for the village, or for Dad’s memory. Castiel was Dean’s, just Dean’s, and they were here together. Riding the wild rhythm of each other’s blood, moving together, until they were muffling each other’s stuttering shouts and smearing each other’s bellies with their wetness.

Castiel caught everything from Dean’s mouth and kept it, kisses and breaths and moans and, because Dean still couldn’t stop smiling, little nuzzles and grins. And Dean just kept combing through Castiel’s feathers with sluggish hands, pressing into the velvety skin below feathers and down as far as he could reach: long, soothing strokes and little teasing circles, soothing the stiffness and stresses of the day out of them and easing them into place.

And once the mess between their bellies was cooling and sticky, and Castiel’s head was drooping forward to nuzzle damply at Dean’s shoulder, then Dean rolled his dopey angel off him and grabbed for the wash cloth, to wipe them both down. Then he sat up against the headboard, and got his fingers everywhere else.

Castiel needed a pillow to nuzzle into and wrap himself around, because he always went all loose and clingy afterward. So Dean gave him that and spread first one wing then the other out over his lap, to give Castiel what he needed. And there was a wonder to that too: these wings, these great weapons of magic and war, so pliable and relaxed under his hands. Every muscle loose, so they opened and folded at the gentlest touch. Feathers fanning out or sliding back in under each other, neat and smooth as anything. So light and delicate under Dean’s clumsy fingers - but Castiel was making happy grumbly noises like Chevy made when she got to curl up in her bed after an exhausting day, and his face was pressed in against the curve of Dean’s thigh with a messy halo of dark hair around him on the pillow, and Dean hadn’t screwed up yet.

He worked his way over both wings, hands heavy and whiskey-languid. Then he nestled up under the left one, against Castiel’s side, and let his free hand explore the warm planes and dips of Castiel’s back.

“Hey Cas,” he breathed after a while, lips brushing against Castiel’s temple.

“Hello Dean,” Castiel mumbled sleepily into Dean’s collar bone, so Dean had to stop and press a kiss to his eyebrow before he went on, all sappy and warm.  

“Y’know how you said angels need, well, touching? Like, family, but having to feel it, like we need food?”

Castiel’s head lifted and one eye blinked up at Dean, quietly curious.

Dean cleared his throat. “Is this. Um. Am I...?”

“The sex isn’t necessary,” Castiel rasped, slow and pleasure-deep. “But yes, this counts. More than counts.”

He dropped his head, and Dean felt the curl of a smile against his throat. “And the sex is... very welcome.”

“Well.” Dean ticked his chin in on top of Castiel’s rumpled hair, and hooked one of his legs over Castiel’s nearest. “Well, good.”

They lay there for a few more minutes, damp but warm, with the soft sweet-smelling weight of Castiel’s wing folded over Dean’s back and tickling his ass and thighs, while the homey smell of whatever Sam and Gabriel had concocted insinuated its way in under the door.

“So,” Dean yawned after a while, and let a grin creep into his voice. “Shitty day, huh?”

Castiel bumped at the back of Dean’s head with the crook of his wing. “Don’t get cocky. It’s very unattractive.”

“You love it,” Dean informed him happily, and pinched his ass before squirming out of bed to find his pants. After all, he wouldn’t put it past Gabriel to give them the five-minute call by bursting in with a bucket of cold water, just to embarrass Castiel some more.



---



It was dinner for five, as it turned out. Charlie had come along too, presumably because, with Anna off delivering Castiel’s letter to Angel Central and bringing some more angels back with her, Sam had stolen her only house guest. Funnily enough, it threw Castiel for a bit of a loop. He was slipping into the habit of being a complete slob around the house, where it was just Sam and Dean and nobody was expecting him to be this important angel captain or anything, and Dean adored it. Apparently Gabriel wasn’t worth putting on his game face either, because when Castiel shuffled into the kitchen, mussed and yawning and with his fingers hooked possessively into the back pocket of Dean’s pants, he wasn’t wearing anything but Dean’s pants from yesterday, slung loose around his hips. When he saw Charlie sliding bread rolls out of the oven, his bare feet stuttered to a halt on the kitchen flags, and the haze of sex and sleepiness was abruptly covered up with an awkward little squint and the rigid back of the soldier.

But, “’Sup, guys,” Charlie tossed carelessly in their direction with a little oven-mitted wave, as she tipped the bread rolls from the tray to the cooling rack that Sam was holding for her, like an unguarded Castiel was nothing remarkable at all. For that matter, Sam was barefoot and shirtless, with some hastily wiped smudges of stew on his stomach, and Charlie was swimming in one of Sam’s sweaters and looked like she might have lost her shirt under that as well, so all in all it wasn’t the most formal-looking bunch.

Dean spotted Chevy lapping away happily at a spot on the floor, silver-tipped tail flapping to greet him, and chuckled as he stole one of the hot new rolls. “Y’let the stew get the jump on you, Sammy?”

Sam made a bit of a face, and pointedly didn’t look at Charlie, in a way that suggested exactly who’d done the fumbling. “It sort of exploded.”  

Dean tugged Castiel down beside him, gave him the first roll, and got another for himself, because he was the epitome of chivalry.

“Not my fault,” Gabriel pointed out helpfully, “but you’ll be pleased to know that I charged heroically in to rescue the princess, wielding my trusty wash cloth.” He’d solved the problem of their lack of a fifth kitchen chair by bringing in the short sofa from the living room, and he was occupying it like a throne. His wings were out now, and in the greys of the kitchen their colour drew the eye, deeper and richer in the half-light: all coppers and blood-reds instead of the bright gold that they caught in the sun.

“Your trusty wash cloth missed a spot,” Dean told him, pushing the stew over towards Charlie and snagging the butter for himself and Castiel. Sam exhaled heavily behind the dishevelled mess of his bangs, and scrubbed at the leftover smear with the edge of the tablecloth. Yep. Definitely not a formal sort of gathering.

“What can I say? It’s a prude.” Gabriel winked at Castiel. “All those acres of manflesh get it terribly flustered.”

Castiel cut a half-hearted withering glare in Gabriel’s direction, but it didn’t work so well with the sleepy eyes. Sam threw a bread roll at Gabriel’s head. Dean carefully didn’t notice the way his ears and belly went pink.

It didn’t feel like Having People Over For Dinner. Although Dean had never really been sure what that was meant to feel like, anyway. Not like he and Sam had ever been in that habit of entertaining when they’d been growing up - who’d come to have dinner with a couple of kids? and it was weird letting people see into his and Sam’s life together, to give them a chance to look at Dean sadly and tell him a ‘better’ way to do all the stupidest little tasks, or take over in his own kitchen and tell him to go and play with their kids while they did the cooking or washing up, or think they had the right to scold Sammy for bad manners, or - anyway. Somewhere along the way, Dean felt like he’d missed the memo on how ordinary people just casually asked friends over, shared a meal with them, worked out how to exist in each other’s space.

But, hey, they were all misfits here. Gabriel, not quite an angel and not quite a human, sharp and prickly and not to be touched. Castiel, who’d missed out on a childhood, who was an angel but who was also Dean’s little brother and his betrothed and was just generally weird and who actually wanted to marry Dean. Sam, who’d always wanted to leave and see new worlds, who’d always thought he was a freak growing up and who still wouldn’t talk about the fact that technically he was a skinwalker now unless Dean really pressed him and who (Dean was pretty sure) hadn’t actually changed into his other shape since he’d got back home. Charlie, who’d always stayed down on the apple farm as much as she could, who’d also been left to keep house all by herself far too young and hadn’t even had a brother or sister to give her reason to keep going, who read the obscurest shit and only liked girls and wouldn’t pretend otherwise. And Dean... well, yeah.

So it wasn’t like they had to worry about doing things right and being Like That: showing off, or being on your best manners, or whatever it was normal people did when they had friends over. It was just... comfortable. In a way Dean had never thought it could be, having someone who wasn’t Sammy (or, okay, Castiel) in his kitchen. And somehow, even though there were more people than kitchen chairs, even though they weren’t family in the strict sense, having them all here made it feel... more like home.

Castiel was being all embarrassed but tolerant, expecting and pointedly ignoring all of Gabriel’s little insinuations, wearing a long-suffering face and gradually leaning heavier and heavier against Dean’s side. Dean drifted in and out of the conversation, intoxicated on the fact that all he had to do was turn his head and he could nuzzle in under Castiel’s ear, or drop a kiss on his jaw. Gabriel was busy occupying space, wings draped like a curtain of soft fire over the sofa, telling stories that weren’t the grand impressive exoticisms of distant lands, like all the one’s he’d been telling lately, but more like the stories he’d used to tell before they’d found out what he was. Little silly anecdotes of life on the road, almost incongruous now in their normality; but they made Sam’s eyes light up just the same. Charlie was talking with her mouth full, the gaping collar of Sam’s sweater slipping down over one bare shoulder, gesticulating with her spoon.  

And then sometimes Dean and Charlie and Sam were all talking over each other while Castiel smiled his little private smile behind his fork, and Gabriel pointed out that they were all wrong - until Charlie and Dean shot back the same retort to him at once, then crowed smugly and fist-bumped across the table like kids, while Gabriel rolled his eyes to the ceiling like he was praying for strength.

It was all very strange, or it should have been. And it would probably kick in any moment now; but in the meantime, well, everything else went on, easy and rambling.  

And sure, there were those moments from time to time when Gabriel cracked a joke that was just a bit too coarse, and Castiel went stiff and looked away, and Gabriel’s voice faltered and got all hard for a minute. Or when Sam, sleepy and well-fed and demonstrative, would reach out to cup one hand around Charlie’s shoulder, or drop a sloppy kiss on her cheek, or reach across the table to tap Castiel’s wrist to emphasise a point, and yet carefully never put his hands anywhere near Gabriel’s end of the table even though he was right there next to him. And hell, Dean could see the way Gabriel’s eyes trailed after Sam’s hand sometimes, and the careful way Castiel’s right wing tucked in against his side to keep from bumping Gabriel’s, even while his left sprawled casually out behind Dean’s chair. But the trouble was, it didn’t get Dean’s shoulders all tensed up over Gabriel breaking Sam’s heart, or whatever: it just made him wonder what happened to an angel who’d been so screwed over that he flinched away from every simple friendly touch.

... then Sam utterly betrayed him.

“What? No!” he stuttered, while Sam grinned at him like the worst little brother ever. “I only got those things because I thought Sam might like them!”

“Sure,” Sam agreed, far too easily, while Castiel looked back and forth between him and Dean and Charlie in patient confusion. “And that’s why you still have them, and always used to keep bringing them out to fiddle with them.”

Dean jabbed a stern finger at him. “Those things cost good money. We don’t throw away things we can fix, Sammy.”

“Fixing.” Sam smirked behind his potato. “Sure. That’s what you were doing.”

Dean went red, and found himself dodging Castiel’s curious eyes, even though Castiel never knew the difference between cool and uncool. “Whatever.”

Charlie’s spoon clattered to the floor. “Hold up. You have a collection of Brekeborough toys?”

Dean laughed the laugh of a man all alone in the face of cruel betrayal. “No! Maybe.”  

“Dude,” Charlie breathed reverently, eyes wide and gleaming. “What do you have?”

Huh.

“Um. There’s a stag, but he’s lost one of his antlers now, so his head goes sideways when he lowers it to scratch his knee.” Dean carefully kept his eyes focussed on the table in front of Charlie, and pointedly ignored the broad grin he could just see on Sam’s face beside her. “And I’ve had to replace all his gears at least twice, because he crunches them like crazy. And this windmill, it’s... well, kinda awesome actually. When it’s all properly greased up and it hasn’t popped a cog or anything it turns in the wind, and it drives this tiny pump that just goes up and down. And a lark, with all these really thin aluminium feathers in its wings, and when they open, if you do it really carefully, they all fan out just - well.” He gestured with his hands, trying to describe the sheer mechanical beauty of that motion for those few glorious weeks before the flimsy metal had started to bend and twist and ruin the shape, and ended up just leaning back into the warm, living feathers that had driven that childhood fascination. “Just like a real wing.”

Charlie made little grabby motions with both hands. “When we’re done here,” she declared, “you are taking me to wherever you keep your stash, and you are so introducing me to those sons of britches.”

This... wasn’t ridicule.

“What about you?” he asked, playing it cool, poking the knife about in his stew. “Have you got, uh...”

“Little pedlar wagon with all the tiny cupboards and drawers inside if you life the roof off, and if you wind it up it trundles along on its own without a horse,” she answered promptly, “and a dragon.”

Dean whistled. “No shit! And the wings on that -”

“Well, we got it half price because one wing had come off, but my m-” She faltered for a moment, then swallowed and went on, “My mum fixed it for me. She could do anything with that sort of thing. But, yep, they work - she got rid of the linen for the sails because it kept tearing and fit this light parchment to it instead, and if you keep it supple they fold up like a dream.”

“The dog is licking your spoon,” Castiel pointed out mildly.

“Parchment, huh?” Dean dropped his knife and pretence and leaned forward eagerly. “I gotta try that for the windmill. The old leather cracked off years back, and I can’t get any more fine enough. Linen’s too light - screws the balance.”

“Hey, do yours have those weird little steel curlicues on the toes? Or, you know, anywhere they could fit?”

“Hell yes!”

Dean wondered wildly what it would have been like to have had a little sister too.

“Hold on,” Gabriel cut in, voice rich with amusement. “These wouldn’t be those little mechanical nightmares that Frank Devereaux used to peddle, would they?”

Sam nodded around a mouthful of stew-soaked bread. “Pretty sure that was the name, yeah.”

Gabriel made a derisive noise. “That old fraud? Selling complicated junk to clueless yokels and calling it art.”

Charlie’s face scrunched up indignantly. “It was art! Dean!”

And, well... in this company, it wasn’t that hard to choose honest and enthusiastic over looking all badass.  

Dean swallowed half of his mouthful, and grinned around the rest. “Sorry, dude, gotta go with her on this one. That was some serious craftsmanship going on there.”

Gabriel waved one hand dismissively. “Well, yeah. All inspiration and shoddy materials. Buy them for a pittance from hard-up journeymen who’re desperate to pay their accommodation, sell them on to some poor shmuck just far enough away that they look exotic.”  

Dean rolled his eyes, because that did sound like the sort of thing foreigners would get up to. “Nobody likes a smartass, angel.”

“Hey.” Charlie jabbed her knife in Gabriel’s direction. “Childhood memories, dickfingers. Respect.”

Sam spluttered into his cup, then had a coughing fit. Gabriel took that for an opportunity to pat at his back, then muss his hair up until Sam batted him away.

“Sorry, princess. I just can’t believe there were two people in this tiny little village who fell for that.”

“I can’t believe you’re sitting too far away for me to punch you in the arm,” Charlie complained.

“What are you all talking about?” came Castiel’s deep gravel voice, pulling Dean up short.

“Uh. I’ll show you later.” Dean scratched sheepishly at the back of his neck. “It’s, um. It’s just some dumb toys.”

Charlie made a betrayed noise.

“... I mean. Not dumb exactly, just...”

“Keep digging, hotcheeks,” Gabriel advised, and slurped a bean into his mouth.

Sam leaned forward across the table, little brother smirk out in full force again. “It’s a collection of little mechanical models and animals that Dean was into when we were little. Kids’ stuff.”

“Ah, I see,” Castiel said, all gravity and puzzled innocence. “Just like the cookies, then?”

Sam shut his mouth with a snap.

Dean snickered, and tugged his sneaky angel in against his side. Castiel’s wing settled warm around his shoulders, and his mouth curved ever so slightly at the corner.

Having Charlie here, part of this: that was unexpected all on its own. What with one thing and another, Dean had hardly even known her two months before. She was of the book and the plough, and he was of the gun; and, besides helping Missouri in the schoolroom, she’d hardly left her farm in the last couple of years to come up to the town.

He’d only got the impression that she was a bit odd. A bit different, with her gawky sort of figure and flyaway hair and habit of dropping references to storybook characters like they were personal friends. And then, of course, thinking back on it, there’d also been the fact that she never dressed up as elegant or pretty, like most other girls her age did when they got a chance: never blushed and smiled and tucked hair behind her ear and gave you assessing little sideways glances and swayed her hips when you were watching her, all those little behaviours that said I am a girl. She just came to town in her dirty overalls with her sleeves pushed up over her elbows, hair messy from the wind and the work, and talked to everyone like she was a guy herself. Or like all of them were girls. Or something.  

But unexpectedly, she was here. And unexpectedly, Dean liked that. She was... a comfortable kind of girl to have around. Which sounded stupid in his head, but there weren’t that many people who were easy, who made Dean not care if he screwed up or let his walls down a bit or acted like a bit of a dork. And there was a sort of joy about her that was infectious and deep, like the world was full of things to get excited about.  

Also she was awesome.

Dean watched her epic seven-round rock-paper-scissors duel with Sam over the last potato, and wondered how long it’d been since Charlie had decided she was never going to marry a man. That had to be a pretty damn lonely call to make. Especially when you didn’t know that there’d be an ethereal red-headed angel girl coming along soon, who was into the same sort of thing.

And then there was that moment when Sam got up to take the empty tureen to the sink and, coming back past Gabriel, accidentally brushed against the very edge of the wing that stretched out on the sofa. The wing flinched back against Gabriel’s side quick as a caterpillar curling into a ball, and the whole table jolted and rattled as his hands locked tight on the edge.  

Sam froze in place, his face a mask of horrified guilt; and, after a moment, the fight-or-flight shock on Gabriel’s slid into something harsher, a sharp-edged little curl of self-mockery fixed on his plate.

“Sorry,” he said, very deliberately, in a way that sounded like it was trying to be a joke. The wing uncurled a bit - stiff, jerky little movements, like it was fighting its own muscles.

“Shit. No. Don’t be - I shouldn’t have - um.” Sam bit his lip into silence, and slid carefully back into his seat. Dean caught, out of the corner of his eye, an abortive movement of Castiel’s right hand towards Gabriel’s left - because that was always his first instinct, the wordless press of skin to skin when things got hard. Only that wouldn’t do here. And Gabriel wouldn’t look up.

There was a tense moment of silence. Then, “Uh. Awkward,” Charlie said brightly, hair corkscrewed into a tangle around two fingers; and Dean let out a surprised little bark of laughter, and got back to ribbing Sam over the way he always overcooked the rabbit.  

It took a minute or two, but it did sort itself out, wandering back into the lazy chatter of before. And when Gabriel’s wing finally relaxed back into place, it wasn’t quite where it had been in the first place: it was curled in a little towards Sam. When Sam caught Gabriel’s eye there was some kind of moment that Dean wasn’t going to think about, and Sam’s jaw went stubborn and hard. Then his hand slid slowly over to clasp, for one deliberate moment, around the leading edge just under the table. Just like he’d press Dean’s shoulder, to make a point.

This time, Gabriel didn’t flinch. He held Sam’s gaze for a moment, eyes dark and giving nothing away. Then he looked over to respond to Castiel, to call him ‘nightowl’ and laugh, and Sam’s hand dropped back to his own lap.

Maybe Dean wasn’t the only person around who was learning lately what it felt like to breathe a sigh of relief.



---



It was a clear night when Dean let Gabriel and Charlie out, and the moon turned the world into flat paper cut-outs of black and white.

Gabriel tilted his face up to the moon and took a deep breath. His wings stretched out, vast arches of shadow and velvet, up above his head and out to his sides, tilting and pulling back to slide into one slow, powerful beat, then another. Like driving against a lover’s body, and savouring it.

He turned, and his smile was brushed with silver.

“Hey, princess. Want to fly?”

Charlie gulped, but her eyes went wide.

It took them a minute or two to sort it out. Apparently Charlie was slim enough and the flight short enough that she could loop her arms around Gabriel’s neck and lie along his back, without cramping up his wings or whatever. The one time Dean had let Castiel coax him into trying it, that had been the worst part: even Castiel’s arms wound firm around his body, and the belts strapping his calves to Castiel’s, and the press of their chests together, hadn’t been able to cancel out the sickening yawn of that vast gulf below and behind him.

Dean hovered, keeping an eye on them in the mottled light as the big round moon drifted in and out from behind the clouds: Charlie’s delicate, bony hands hovering just above Gabriel’s shoulders like breathing space. Gabriel’s shoulders squaring up under them, and his darker hands reaching back to take hers firmly by the wrists and draw them down, without flinching, to cross over his chest. Gabriel’s voice, going on about air flow and rhythm and how the first few downbeats would be the worst, while he stepped back into her body and his wings flexed and shifted, little half-gestures to show what he meant. Charlie replying, here and there, half-breathless but keeping up, keeping things straight in her head. Trusting.

Dean insisted on her buckling her belt through Gabriel’s, just to be sure. Because that shit was dangerous, and Charlie was not allowed to fall.  

He ducked back inside before Gabriel took off, just in time to close the door on the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of wings grabbing at the air and Charlie’s little startled squeak. Some things he’d rather not see.  

Castiel was lurking in the hallway, his wings darker smudges in the shadows and head tipped lazily against the door of the weapons closet. Even though he’d shooed a yawning Sam off to bed with the promise of doing the washing up.

Dean’s stomach did a ridiculous little jump of happiness. He closed on Castiel and boxed him softly in against the door with his body, because it already felt like days since they’d touched. Castiel tolerated it with a rumbly sigh, hands settling around Dean’s waist to tuck in under the back of his belt.

“So, I just noticed something,” Dean told him, dropping his voice to make Castiel’s breath hitch. “Moon was full two days back.”

Castiel drew back far enough to squint at him in that patient ‘please continue to elaborate, obtuse human’ sort of way he had.

“Which means that was our one-month Being Officially Betrothed anniversary,” Dean explained, distractedly, leaning in to kiss the silly little wrinkles in between his eyebrows. “And we missed it.”

“‘Anniversary’ means ‘the turn of a year,’ Dean. There’s no such thing as a monthly anniversary,” his pedantic know-it-all angel mumbled, hands working their sly way down inside the back of Dean’s pants. “And no, we didn’t. It was the ides of August. Tomorrow is the ides of September.”

“Huh. Follow the calendar instead of the moon? Not bad.” Dean wriggled in a little more comfortably against Castiel’s body, as his angel’s stance widened to let Dean settle between his legs. “So you know what that makes today, then.”

And yes, he knew he was being an utter dork, right down to the stupid grin, but he didn’t have to be smooth for Castiel.

Castiel’s cheek rasped against his, then they were breathing against each other’s lips.

“I can guess,” he murmured, dry and warm, and even in this light Dean had never seen a blue like the brightness of Castiel’s eyes. “But I imagine you’re going to tell me.”

Dean laughed, breathless with happiness, low into the charged air between their mouths. “Damn straight. Orgasm monthiversary, you giant nerd. And I’ve only given you two so far today.”

From this close, he could see the tiny creases at the corners of Castiel’s eyes when he smiled.

 

Next chapter coming soon.

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