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] [Chapter 6] [Chapter 7] [Chapter 8] [Chapter 9] [Chapter 10]
Dean scowled as Johnson cuffed him and led him into the station. Daria was somewhere behind him; he could feel her eyes burning a hole in his back. Dean shifted uncomfortably, hating feeling so naked and exposed. The thought gave him a little shiver and he groaned when the wings did the same. Johnson gave him a funny look, but Dean was beyond caring at this point.
Johnson stopped at the top of a dark stairway that led into the basement. Dean peered down into the blackness and grimaced.
"I knew your town was backwards, but medieval?"
Sheriff Johnson didn't crack a smile. He waved Dean forward and fell behind, moving to stand with his daughter. Dean wasn't all too keen on having them both armed at his back as he walked into the abyss, but he didn't really have much of a choice. He just hoped Sam was all right.
"Get going," Johnson told him.
"You could at least uncuff me."
Dean sighed and started down.
He was careful as he descended step by step. Lights obviously weren't in fashion, save for the single bulb that hung from the center of the room. Above a wooden stool.
Dean paused when he reached the end. He couldn't see anything else in the darkness, but he was willing to bet there were tons of gadgets and do-bobs hiding just out of site. What he could see were a bunch of grumpy and/or excited people-- he couldn't tell the difference--standing in a semi-circle around the stool.
"Oh, super. I walked into Dungeons and Dragons meets Andy Griffith."
"Cute," said one of the men in the semi-circle. He pointed to the stool. "Why don't you have a seat?"
"Eh, I think I'll stand." Dean grunted as someone from behind shoved him down on the stool. "Or I can sit."
An older man stepped forward, a guy somewhere in his sixties, who reminded Dean of Bobby if Bobby had worked behind a desk all his life instead of salvaging old beat-up cars. He wasn't dressed like the others in the room; he lacked the tan uniforms of the officers in the station, opting for a long robe that would make the wizards from Lord of the Rings jealous.
"Whoa," Dean said, barely able to hold back a laugh. "Someone needs to lay off the trips to fantasy land."
The man's lips twitched, but he didn't answer. He kept his cold face impassive as Daria and Johnson came to stand beside him.
"We found him outside the barrier," Johnson explained. "He and the other one were working some kind of spell work in the woods, not far from the site of the murders. I think they were trying to find a way to sneak this one into town unnoticed."
The older man nodded, but remained silent.
"He could be a spy," one of the woman in the circle said. "They could be trying to slip creatures through the barrier. It wouldn't be the first time."
Dean frowned. He was getting sick of the creature label. But his mind left the insult aside and locked onto something else the woman said.
"They?" he asked. "Who?"
Not surprisingly, no one answered him. Though, Dean didn't really need them to explain anything. He was starting to have the sneaking suspicion that whatever was happening here went beyond witches and Satanists.
"I saw them a couple of days ago, after the tall one spoke to you," Daria added, addressing her father. "They looked normal." She pointed to Dean's back. "He didn't have them at all."
"That doesn't make sense," Johnson said with a frown.
"Makes perfect sense," Dean muttered. "I'm a person."
Again, they ignored him.
"He's not a spy," Johnson said. "I know it. They don't operate this way. This one and the other one made no move to attack."
At this time, the older man stepped closer to Dean until he was just inches away from his face. Dean couldn't help but lean back. He hated when Castiel did that; he wasn't about to enjoy some dude with breath that smelled like loogies getting in his face.
"How did you use magic to get through the barrier?"
"I didn't use no magic," Dean said. "Waitress over there is right. I've been in town for a couple of days."
"Nothing can break through," said another person from the semi-circle. "Nothing remotely supernatural can come through the town barrier."
"How did you do it?" another asked.
"Because I'm human!"
"Could the barrier be weakening?" Johnson asked the older man.
"Not likely," he said. "The charms on this town have been sound for over a century." He cocked his head and frowned, his attention falling to Dean's chest. "What is the tattoo for?"
"Not that you'll believe me," Dean muttered, "but it stops demon possession."
"Really?" Daria suddenly seemed more interested in the conversation.
"Really." He paused. "Got a demon problem?"
When she received a dozen or so glares from the others in the room, Dean got his answer. Great. So maybe Sam was right and they were dealing with a seal, or at least something to do with Lilith and her cronies.
"And the arm?" the older man asked.
Dean glanced at the handprint that had been seared into his flesh. "I'm a hunter," he said. "I deal with a lot of crazy stuff. That? That was crazy."
Everyone's attention turned to his wings.
"I'll have to get back to you on that one."
None of the inquisitors seemed impressed. They leaned closer to one another, aside from the guy that was still too close for comfort, and chattered in hushed tones. Dean had this prickly feeling that told him whatever they decided wasn't going to be good for him.
"Terry, right?" Dean asked, watching the older man. "Look, you seem like a man in the know. You gotta understand that whatever barrier you have on this town isn't gonna last forever. Someone or something wants in here bad, and if it's that obvious to me, you can sure as hell bet it's obvious to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who wants in on your little secret."
Terry seemed to consider his words, his ever piercing-eyes making Dean feel like he was naked. "And are you here for that little secret?"
Dean made a face. "No, just came to do my job."
"And what job would that be?"
"Is everyone deaf?" Dean squirmed under their vigilant glares and felt the wings twitch. "You know hunters, I'm guessing, and that means you know any hunter getting wind of the murders outside of town would be all over this gig." He stopped. Upon seeing the discomfort pass across their faces, he felt a quick pulse of heat as the realization and humiliation hit him. "Crap," he mumbled.
He was such an idiot. He should have caught the set-up. Damn, he was so busy worrying about the wings to really look at what was happening.
"Where is it?" one of the women asked.
"You used us," Dean muttered. "You did all this to get us to find your whatever the hell it is." He let out a chuckle. "You have no clue what you're protecting."
"We didn't commit those murders," Johnson was quick to add. Terry shot him a warning look. "There are people trying to break through the barrier. We need to find it before they do."
"Yeah, I bet."
"You don't understand." Johnson came forward, and Terry sneered, but he continued nonetheless. "The end of the world is going to happen. We don't know when, but we think it might be soon. Whatever we were given to protect, we can't let it fall into the wrong hands. We need to find it before they do."
"And what? You think I can find it?" Dean rolled his shoulders, still sick from the constant throbbing in the hurt wing. "How the hell did you lose it to begin with?"
"It's not lost," Terry said.
Dean had the impression this Terry guy knew a lot more than he was telling. And by the looks these folks were giving him, he knew for sure that it had something to do with angels. Lately, everything seemed to have to do with angels.
"Dad, you're far too trusting," Daria muttered.
Johnson ignored her. "Lead us to it."
"I don't know what the hell it is!"
"This isn't working," said the first woman. Dean didn't like her; she looked like a bat. "We can't use anything creative. Not here. I dare not risk taking him outside town beyond the magic barrier."
"What about the other one?" asked one of the officers. She turned her attention to Dean. "Is he like you?"
Dean wanted to tell her that Sam was far from being like him, but he opted to stay quiet. He didn't want the town's prying eyes to get a glimpse of Sam's freaky demon powers in action.
"They claim to be brothers," Johnson said. "I have the other in questioning."
"Might as well bring him down here," she said. "This one isn't going to talk."
"I'm not done with him," Terry said.
Dean twisted his wrists between the cuffs. His fist was dying to get acquainted with the guy's face right about now.
Terry pressed his lips together. "Dan, a word."
The sheriff stepped back and mingled with the semi-circle of questioners.
"How could you bring it here?" Dean heard the woman say. "We don't know who it's working for, or its agenda."
"I'm in the room," Dean called.
Johnson stole a glance at Dean before he sighed. "I pride myself on my judgment. I got this one right. I know it."
Dean wasn't sure what Johnson meant, but whatever it was, the rest of them weren't buying it. The whole little magic club started to argue in rough whispers, just out of earshot. He leaned forward to try to get a better idea what they were saying, but Daria interrupted him.
Dean glanced over his shoulder. He couldn't really see them. But he knew that Daria was talking about his damaged wing. What he'd really like to do was saw the damn thing off, but when he realized she wasn't looking at him with fear anymore, he puffed out his chest a bit. "Well, comes with the job."
"Maybe you should get them checked out before they get infected," Daria offered, reaching over to pluck a loose feather off one of the wings. "The vet in town is really good."
Dean deflated faster than a leaking helium balloon.
"No, really. When my grandma's chickens came down with the flu, he patched them right up."
"Yeah, I think I'll pass on the chicken doctor."
"He's on his way," Daria said with a smile.
Dean moaned. "Oh come on." He didn't know how much worse this day could get.
"My dad thinks you and your brother can help us somehow. He thinks you're the ones that the town has been waiting for."
Dean raised his eyebrows at the abrupt outburst. "Why're you telling me this?"
"Because I think he's wrong." Her face suddenly grew dark. "My dad's a trusting man and he's right. He has good judgment. I don't think you're here to cause trouble, but if you are and you end up hurting my dad, I'll make sure I hurt you."
"Waitress is a firecracker."
Her smile returned. "Don't you forget it."
Dean didn't have a chance to toss out one of his one-liners when a man in a white coat descended the stairs, effectively chasing Daria away. He had a small bag in his hands, and a stethoscope secured in his coat pocket. Whoopee. The vet was here.
The people in this town had lousy timing.
He stopped when he reached the end of the stairs, his eyes widening when his gaze found Dean. Again, Dean squirmed under the constant stares and just wished the wings would go away. The gentle flap behind his back told him they had other plans.
To his credit, the doc didn't ask questions. He grabbed a small table and dragged it over to Dean and set up his little bag in the center. Dean didn't like the fact the doctor was out of sight; he liked to see what people were doing, and didn't trust a soul behind his back.
He felt the man start to prod at the wings.
"Stow the touchies!"
"Consider this a peace offering," Johnson said. "Reginald will patch you up as a show of good faith."
"The hell it is," Dean muttered, feeling--what the hell, giant tweezers?--poke at the wings. "You're afraid if I got angel buddies and you mess with me, they'll come after you."
Dean couldn't help but muse over some of the truth of that statement. If Castiel and the other angels were putting him through tests, he doubted they'd be happy when other mere mortals started getting in their way.
He heard a clank and turned his head. The vet had managed to pull out a few thorns and some long-ass splinters from the damaged wing. Another clink in the metal dish.
"This is fascinating," breathed the doctor. Dean inched a bit further away from him. "They look and feel like feathers, but if you study them closely, they are something different. Something light. Did you know that if you bend the feathers a certain way, they harden? I have never seen something like that before in an avian creature."
"I'm no freakin' bird!" But even Dean felt his curiosity piqued. He glanced over his shoulder. "Really?"
"Just finish up, Reggie," Terry said.
Dean felt the man behind him nod and speed up his pace. He didn't even flinch when another set of footsteps pounded down the stairs. However, Johnson did flinch.
"Manny," he said, crossing the room to join him. "You're supposed to be with the other one."
"He's in lock up." The officer, who Dean recognized as Deputy Owens, wiped the sweat from his panicked face and took a deep breath. "I saw Reggie come down here and--"
"It's under control," Johnson said. "Go back upstairs."
Owens hesitated. "Sir, I don't think it's a good idea. Who knows what this thing will tell you to survive."
"I'm trusting my gut on this one," Johnson said.
Dean decided he liked Johnson.
By the looks on the others' faces, Dean gathered the lot of them disagreed. There were more whispers, even some pointed looks at Terry. Terry didn't say a word, but a small nod of his head seemed to give them all the reassurance they needed. Dean watched with mild apprehension as seven of the twelve started up the stairs and out of sight. The remaining five started to reposition themselves around the room, while twitchy Owens stayed to the side with Daria who Dean swore was working out how to skin him if he dared breathe on her dad. Plucky the vet remained behind him, quieter than normal, which did nothing to comfort Dean. The whole room felt like it dropped a few degrees.
This wasn't good.
When Terry turned away and walked to the desk to pick up something that looked suspiciously long and sharp, Dean leaned forward and whispered to Johnson. "Come on, man. Throw me a bone."
The sheriff hesitated, stealing a glance at Terry. The older man continued to hunch over the desk. Johnson turned back to Dean.
It killed Dean to take a page out of Sam's book, but he wasn't liking where this whole scenario was heading. "Whatever you have--witches, Satanists, demons, monsters--this is our thing. We can help you," he said, squirming as a cold ointment was slathered on the skin under his wings. "I'm either this guy you've been waiting for or not. But if I am, you should be trusting me, right?"
The conflict marred Johnson's face. He looked to his daughter, and then to Owens. Nether seemed to give him the reassurance he needed. Defeated, he sighed and shook his head at Dean.
Dean frowned. "Just who wears the pants in this town?"
Johnson's eyes darkened. After a moment of hesitation, he stepped forward and matched Dean's intense gaze. "We were given instructions to protect something here, something that could be our saving grace. Terry's right. Only two beings can come and claim it. If neither comes, then we wait for the signal and hand it over to the angels once they walk among us again." He pressed his lips together, ignoring the glares from the others in the room, sans Daria who remained as impassive as ever. "Demons are in the woods. They torment us whenever we leave town. They kill our people. We need help."
Dean felt his stomach flop. He wasn't about to tell them angels were walking among them, and they weren't all they were cracked up to be. Worse, no way were demons just going to pack up and leave until they got what they wanted. This town was screwed.
Johnson must have read the hopelessness in his face. His lips thinned; the fire faded from his eyes.
"I got some friends in high places. Maybe they can help."
Castiel and his crew weren't exactly friends. Hell, Dean couldn't stand his loud-mouth buddy. But it wasn't exactly a lie. He knew angels would be all over this place like white on rice given the chance.
"Can't you see he's lying?" Owens protested, pointing. "He's just conning us!"
"Manny, enough," said Johnson.
"No." Manny Owens broke away from Daria and walked across the room, his fingers strumming the area above his holster. "He's playing games. That's what they do. He's not an angel. He's one of them, trying to trick us."
"I'm no demon."
"Games," Owens insisted.
"There will be no more games." For the first time since the little inquisition had started, Terry smiled. He held up the long rod, which Dean now identified as a cattle prod, and gave it a flick.
The wings bristled behind Dean.
"Dad," Daria said, sounding shocked. "You can't be serious."
"Terry," Johnson said. "This isn't necessary. If he's really an emissary for the ang--"
"It's over," Terry said. He took a deep, controlled breath and stepped forward.
Dean tensed and sat straighter on the stool. As his adrenaline spiked, he felt his heart start to pound harder and faster. Though he was handcuffed, Dean knew he could still take Terry if it came down to a fight.
"Can't we talk 'bout this?" Dean asked.
Terry activated the cattle prod and gave a slight nod.
Dean set his jaw and readied himself.
A flash of a syringe caught the corner of his eye. Even before Dean had time to think about it, he jumped off his seat and kicked back, sending the legs of the wooden stool crashing into the vet. Reggie cried out and stumbled, but didn't fall. He came at Dean with the needle raised and ready to strike his shoulder. Dean pivoted and the undamaged wing, either on instinct or its own, arched out and back, smacking Reggie hard across the face.
He hit the floor with a thud.
Terry, as well as the others positioned around the room, only stopped for a split second. Then, the room was filled with the sound of a half dozen cocking guns.
Dean raised his hands the best he could with the cuffs still binding them together. "Easy," he said.
Reggie the vet was out cold. Dean hadn't realized the amount of power behind the wings. He could see that Reggie had some minor swelling along the side of his nose and under his eye.
Something beyond the swelling caught Dean's attention. A set of rosary beads poked out from under the vet's robes. Very familiar looking beads.
He frowned and started to crouch, still keeping his hands raised. He tried his best to flatten his wings, while simultaneously keeping an eye on Terry and his electric rod.
"Up!" yelled Johnson. "Get away from him."
Dean arched his eyebrows and held one hand palm open as he used the other to grab the beads. Slowly, he rose to his feet, still willing himself to look as passive as possible. He gave the beads a quick scan and huffed.
"Put those down," Terry said firmly. "Come quietly, and we won't have much trouble."
"What are these?" Dean asked, ignoring Terry. He felt the rest of them stepping cautiously toward him, closing in the circle. The more they cornered him like an animal, the more he felt like one. He did his best to ignore the odd flutter growing in his stomach and focus on the problem at hand. At least he still had one ace up his sleeve.
"They're rosary beads, Einstein," said Daria.
He smirked. "Those are sure some funky looking rosary beads." He gave her a pointed look.
She grew quiet.
Dean clutched the beads like they were his last lifeline. The people in the room were obviously afraid of him, but that wouldn't keep them away for long. As soon as they had the chance, they would trap him and it would be over.
"I'm gonna take a wild guess that these are supposed to be on you all the time," he said. "Or else Reggie here wouldn't have them clipped to his belt the way he did."
No one answered, but their faces told all. He grinned.
Dean swung the beads, watching every member of the basement cult inch closer. He turned his attention to Johnson and read through the deep lines in his face.
If Johnson was going to trust him, now would be a good time.
"What do they do?" Dean asked him.
Once again, Johnson hesitated, though the discomfort was short-lived. "Everyone in our group gets them for protection when we leave town," he said. Owens swore at him, but Johnson refused to stop. "The regular townsfolk have their special charms, but we carry these."
"Well, someone got sloppy."
Johnson frowned. "What do you mean?"
"My brother found one of these in the creek." Dean took the rosary and examined them, curious at the arcane symbols that were carved in each bead. "I dunno, though. I didn't get a good look, but the one we got looked different than this."
Johnson exchanged a nervous look with Terry who, surprisingly, seemed to mirror his sentiment. "What do you mean?" Johnson asked.
"I'm saying you might want to check your buddies for their beads, if you get what I mean." Dean jangled the beads once.
"You can't be serious," one of the women said.
"Oh, sweetheart, I'm way past jokes," Dean muttered.
"Beads out," Terry said, his face filled with a fire Dean didn't think was possible. "Everyone. Now."
Terry took his out and slammed them on the rollaway table the vet had used to hold his bag and supplies. Johnson was the next. He reached into his pocket and pulled them out, only to hide them from sight again.
The two of them turned to the rest. Two of the five people that had formed a circle around him reached into their uniforms and withdrew near identical beads. One of the others fumbled, and looked like he was going to pass out, but let out a sigh of relief when he found his. Another brought his from under his shirt, while the last took hers from a pouch on her belt.
Terry glared at Owens and Daria. While they were distracted, Dean edged away from the unconscious vet and slid closer to the table. His fingers poked around the surface until he found the scalpel that Reggie has used to cut out the splinters in the wings. He curved his wrist to keep it out of view before he brought his hands down in front of his chest. One of the wings bent over to cover his actions as he began to jimmy the lock.
"Show your beads," Terry told them.
"What about the others?" Daria asked. "I know what you did. You sent them to go get the truck to transport him out of here." She motioned with her hand to Dean without looking at him. "What if one of them lost it?"
Terry didn't break his stony gaze, but did take out a small remote. With one click, a screen came on that showcased the back of the station where the seven stood waiting by a large transport van. Dean wasn't too keen on what kind of fun-time toys might be awaiting him in that van. Just the idea made his mouth go dry as flashes of images from Hell assaulted his mind.
"Jake," Terry said, talking into his collar. "Everyone's beads. I need to see them."
The seven took turns showing their beads to Terry. Dean worked even faster.
"Thank you," Terry said. He ended the transmission. "Daria, Manny. Your beads."
Neither seemed interested in showing their rosary beads to Terry.
"Daria, please," Johnson said, his voice nearly cracking.
Daria sighed and reached down her blouse and pulled the beads into view. Johnson exhaled and smiled.
Dean worked faster, wincing as the metal dug into his wrists. He needed to get the stupid lock to snap.
"Owens?" Terry asked.
Owens patted down his pockets and his chest. Letting out a nervous laugh, he shrugged. "I must have left them upstairs."
Dean heard the clink in the cuffs. He let out the breath he'd been holding and kept the unhooked cuffs loose on his wrists. Quietly, he started to move towards Terry and Johnson.
"Manny," Johnson said, his voice filled with disappointment. "Tell me you didn't."
"I didn't!" He wiped his brow again. "I just…I must have left them at my desk."
"Manny." Terry's voice was cold.
"I swear. In my desk."
"Then we can go upstairs and get them."
Owens turned pale. "Sure. Uh, sure."
By this time, the circle had turned their attention on Owens, leaving Dean to his own devices. He kept inching closer to Terry and the desk right behind him, intent on finding anything to help defend himself. He always had the knife that Johnson missed in his search, but Dean could use something a whole lot more useful than his box cutter.
"Wait!" he shouted. "The other one! That's why I don't have it. The other one must have taken it. He didn't find it. He ripped it off me."
Daria moved away from Owens and ducked behind her father, her face filled with disgust. Terry and Johnson started toward Owens, their backs exposed to Dean. He knew he could take them both right now, easy, but he couldn't take the entire room. He scanned the basement quickly for anything that would give him a chance.
"Manny, how could you?" one of the group members asked. "We made an oath. We swore to never turn."
"They're-they're messing with you. All of you." He looked to the sheriff. "Dan, they got you good, and you're letting them sucker you in. I've got no connections with demons or monsters. They're the monsters. They're--what the hell is he doing?"
Dean froze as all eyes turned to him.
Johnson's eyes filled with painful betrayal while Terry's blazed. The older man leapt at him with the cattle prod, but none of that mattered after what happened next.
Owens's faced twisted and he raised his gun toward the four of them. Before Dean knew what he was doing, he jumped in front of Terry, knocking the cattle prod out of his hands as he moved, and grabbed Johnson and Daria. His wings fanned out to their longest width, covering all of them as the shot echoed through the basement.
There was heat, a burning like hot coals, and a ping that rattled his bones. He let out a deep breath and shook, feeling weak and oddly light. He stumbled forward and grabbed onto the desk, waiting for the blood to flow.
It never did. Slowly, his wings retracted and folded partway down his back. When he regained some strength, he turned around to find the entire room in shock. White-faced, they stared at him, some so anxious he thought they might pass out.
Owens was shaking so hard he dropped his smoking gun.
Dean looked down. The bullet rested at his feet, dented as if it had hit a steel wall.
He had a sick feeling in his stomach.
That feeling only worsened when he saw Sam, staring at him like all the rest, as he stood, gun drawn, on the stairwell.