Category: Gen, Drama, Humor, Angst, AU, wing!fic
Spoilers: Through It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester
Series: Playing the Angel - While Sam and Dean continue fighting to prevent the Apocalypse, Dean inexplicably manifests a pair of wings. The brothers must work together to figure out what is happening and reverse the act before the changes overtake Dean completely.
Summary: Dean manifests wings for the first time, which complicates the case the brothers are investigating.
Word Count: 32,244 (Total)
A/N: This series is obviously AU, but will follow show canon as closely as possible. Each story can be read as stand alones, but it might make more sense together. I may occasionally post out of order.
Disclaimer: See previous posts.
[Chapter 1] [Chapter 2] [Chapter 3] [Chapter 4] [Chapter 5]
When Sam opened the door, he stopped, horrified.
Dean was standing in the middle of the motel room, his back to the door, with his wings extended. The span was greater than Sam had figured; the feathers spiked out, sharp and precise. But that wasn't what bothered Sam the most. He noticed Dean had his head rolled back and his eyes closed, almost as if he was relishing his otherworldliness.
The wings flapped in a frantic maelstrom of air and feathers, leaving a bewildered Dean in their wake. Dean nearly toppled over as the wings flailed out of control. Quickly, Sam shut the door and locked it, ready to move in to either help his brother or restrain him, but once Dean found his balance, the frenzy calmed and Sam found himself able to relax.
"Dude." Dean exhaled as he slumped onto the edge of the bed. "Give a guy a heart attack."
Sam tossed the pizza box he was holding onto the dresser. "What were you doing?"
Dean rubbed his pale face and slouched his shoulders. "Trying to get the things to work so I could signal Hawkman to come and take me home." He gave a pointed look at Sam. "What the hell does it look like?"
Sam sighed. At least Dean's inappropriate humor was a small comfort throughout this fiasco, though he was uneasy at how pale Dean looked.
"Did you find anything?" Sam asked, deciding to divert the conversation to something a little less awkward and discomforting.
"No," Dean said. "Well, except I can't think too much or else they spaz out."
"That shouldn't be too hard."
Dean glared at him.
Sam forced a chuckle before he became serious again. "It's probably like walking or blinking. If you think too much about it, you stumble. You can consciously make your leg move or blink your eyelid, but it works better when you just let it come naturally."
"I don't want it to come naturally," Dean mumbled.
"I know, but it's better than…" Sam waved vaguely to the stray feathers that had settled onto the beds and floor.
Dean reached down and picked up one of them. Sam watched him pause long enough to twirl the offensive feather between his fingers, his tired eyes examining each feature. As he did, the wings ruffled and settled into a comfortable position flat on his back. Dean didn't flinch this time.
Sam said nothing as he watched. Dean had been cursed less than a day, yet he seemed to be taking to the changes better than Sam had expected. He wasn't sure what to make of it. While he was glad that Dean was adjusting so well, he also worried that Dean was adjusting too well. He also was concerned that whatever was happening to him would continue at an exponential rate. How could they fix him if they were always two steps behind?
Sam kept his fears to himself. He knew he had to stay focused and aware enough to keep them both grounded.
Dean muttered something unintelligible under his breath and flicked the feather across the room. "So, what did you find out in the woods?"
Sam watched it softly glide through the air towards the floor and said, "Not much. I did follow the remains of a trail that seemed to run alongside Devil's Creek, but the trail went cold when I reached a thicket. They covered their tracks well, but I did find this." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bag.
Dean reached out his hand for it. Sam tossed him the bag. "Hex bag?" he asked.
"Whatever's left of one. I found it on the banks of the creek."
"So we're dealing with witches and Satanists?"
Dean groaned. "Man, I hate witches."
"Don't they usually stash these things in tight areas?" Dean shook the bag and examined the broken bones, herbs and clippings. He made a face and jiggled the bag for Sam to take it back. "The woods ain't exactly small and cozy." He stopped and pulled out a small twig. "Is this birch?"
"I think so." Sam frowned. "Why?"
Dean shook his head. "Just wondering."
Sam watched Dean study the twig for a moment longer, positive he was going to pocket it, but instead he put the twig back into the bag and tied it. "What'd you suppose they were doing with these out in the open?"
"Different hex bags are used for different reasons." Sam held out his hand and caught the bag as Dean tossed it. "We just have to find out what this one was for."
"Whatever it is, it can't be good."
Sam nodded. The fact they had witches and traditional Satanists at work in the same town set him on edge. There was some heavy spell work going on outside of town, but the reason eluded him. Add in the ritualistic murders and Sam knew that whatever was happening, it was big.
He stole a glance at Dean. He was leaning over, his head in his hands.
Sam sighed. Maybe Dean's issue was all a distraction to keep them from uncovering the truth. He just didn't know.
He hated it.
"I think I'm going to need to keep watch tonight to see if I can see anything."
Dean peeked through his fingers. "By yourself?"
Sam just looked at him. He couldn't be serious. "We already went over this. There's no way you can go out."
Dean rubbed his face. To Sam, he looked more than tired. He still looked pale from what happened the night before, and his eyes seemed slightly out of focus. Sam wasn't sure if these were just side affects from the pain, or if he'd exhausted himself from whatever he was doing before Sam had entered.
Before Sam had a chance to say anything, Dean rolled his head back and let out a loud groan. "I'm going crazy, Sam."
Sam walked to the bathroom, keeping an eye on Dean as he grabbed him a glass of water and some pills. "It's been a day."
"Yeah, a day too long."
Sam couldn't help but chuckle. Whatever was happening to Dean, he still seemed to be himself. That was comforting to Sam in all this mess.
He exited the bathroom and paused, his grip on the glass tightening as he stared at his brother.
Dean slumped forward. Sam shoved the glass and pill on the table and darted to Dean's side, catching him by the upper arm before he fell over. Still, Dean barely seemed to notice him, his weight pushing toward the floor.
Sam gripped him by both shoulders and gave him a light shake. "Dean, come on. Snap out of it."
Dean let out a moan. Sam could tell he was close to passing out, or hurling, whichever came first. Carefully, Sam lowered him onto the floor and allowed him to lean on the bed. Then, he grabbed the water and pills off the table and came back to his brother.
With a nudge, he urged Dean to take them. Dean didn't protest.
After a quick swallow, Dean leaned his head back on the bed. "This freakin' sucks."
"Maybe you should just take it easy," Sam said. "Maybe get some sleep."
Dean shook his head as he finished the glass of water. "Dude, the last time I was unconscious, I grew wings. I don't want to wake up with a beak."
"I doubt you'll grow a beak."
Sam left him on the floor and walked to the pizza box. The box was still warm, and if anything could cheer up his brother, he figured food would.
He reached the table, slid his laptop aside, and dropped the box on the surface. He turned to help Dean, but stopped when he noticed he was already on his feet, wobbly, but at least conscious.
Dean collapsed into his turned chair and reached for a slice. "Dude, I'm starving."
Sam nodded and pushed the box closer to Dean. His hunger was a good sign. Once he was sure Dean was okay, and he was sated, maybe convincing him to stay inside would be easier.
In reality, Sam knew that was wishful thinking, but it was all he had. Dean couldn't come with him into the forest. Wings or no wings, he was exhausted from his ordeal and his health would just slow them down.
It was up to Sam to figure out what was happening in the forest, and why witches and Satanists had bypassed their competitiveness and joined forces. Hopefully, Dean had the strength to keep his condition in check until they could both focus on it in earnest.
He glanced over at Dean. Some color had returned to his face as he happily shoveled the pepperoni pizza into his mouth. Greasy food probably wasn't the best thing for him to be eating, but Sam hadn't been in the mood to get into a food battle, and had grabbed the easiest thing.
While Dean was distracted and content, Sam decided to take the opportunity to shower and consider his next moves. He left Dean to his fat feast and walked into the bathroom, but before he closed the door, he stared into the shower and frowned.
"Didn't we used to have a bathmat?"
Sam had spent the entire afternoon bouncing back and forth between research on witches, Satanists, and winged creatures. And after hours of searching, he felt like he'd accomplished nothing on all three fronts.
Every single culture had some legend of creatures with wings, but they were always more animal than human. He was hard pressed to find any information where a person developed wings suddenly or over a period of time. The few additional cases he'd found seemed more mythic than folk legend, and it appeared Dean had already browsed those cases anyway.
Maybe he was going about this wrong. He was so focused on finding something humanoid with wings that he had ignored the more outlandish creatures in folklore. The legends and myths they studied were never absolute. Perhaps some of the more ludicrous creatures were in reality more human-appearing than not, with people embellishing their features as time passed. Werewolves were the perfect examples. If Sam concentrated on those types of creatures, he could possibly find something that might help and explain Dean's condition.
He sighed. As much as he wanted to spend all of his time trying to fix this mess, he couldn't ignore the case they were working. He closed the browser and looked down at the notes he'd taken earlier that afternoon.
He knew from experience how witches tended to operate, but each coven had their own set of idiosyncrasies. Male witches usually had different motivations than female witches, and something that slight could make the whole difference in what they were hunting. At least Sam knew they weren't dealing with pagan witches, as well as people who only thought they were witches.
The same for the Satanists. Sam knew they were dealing with actual Satanists just by the feel of the entire case. Satanists weren't flashy or ceremonial in a public way, unless they were in the middle of an important sacrifice or were using the occasion to taunt local law enforcement. They preferred to work behind the scenes, manipulating those around them, and carried an air of sophistication and prestige. Nothing less for the prince of darkness.
Why the two would suddenly join forces was news to him. Sam had heard from various hunters with more experience in the area that Satanists found witches to be messy, uncouth, and deprived. Witches found Satanists to be pompous, untrustworthy, and unwilling to get their hands dirty to get the job done. Together they could be unbeatable, but they rarely ever got past their hate for each other to get anything done.
Something big was going down in this town. He just knew it.
Sam rolled his shoulders to let out the kinks in his stiff muscles. He'd been sitting on his bed, hunched over his laptop for too long. He stole a glance to the table.
Dean was out cold, his head resting on the table surface beside the pizza box. Inside, there were half-eaten bits of crusts and pools of grease where a few stray slices remained. A toppled beer bottle lay against the side of Dean's head; luckily, it was empty. Sam had considered cleaning up the table an hour ago, but he didn't want to wake Dean. Especially not when he anticipated leaving any moment.
The sooner the better. He needed to escape from Dean for a while.
While Sam worked, Dean had attempted to watch some porn. At first Sam had thought it would be the perfect distraction to keep Dean from whining all day, but that proved to be a mistake. Sam had witnessed a range of reactions from Dean and his wings that he never wanted to see ever again, and therefore had banned his brother from watching any more porn while they were in the same building together, let alone the same room.
Sam closed down his laptop and, quietly, he slid off the bed and placed it on top of the dresser. While he was standing, he pulled back the curtains and peered out the window, past the parking lot and into the hills. Daylight was waning; within an hour it would be dark. Sam wanted to leave before it was too dark so he could situate himself in the woods before anything started.
If anything started at all.
He glanced back at Dean one more time before he grabbed his jacket, the keys to the Impala, and walked out the door.