The low rumble of thunder sounded way closer than it had ten minutes ago. Dean had been tracking a wendigo through the forest and, while he hadn’t found the monster, he had gotten hopelessly lost. This far out he had absolutely no service and was trying to find his way to some semblance of a trail. He had already been panicking slightly about getting out of the forest before dark and the impending storm had heightened those worries.
This wouldn’t have happened if you had just waited for Sam to come back from that vampire case , Dean’s inner voice mocked him.
“Shut up,” he mumbled out loud, pausing to see if there was any sign of a deer trail or anything. His eyes noticed the branches of some trees were bent towards the north so he quickly changed tracks and headed that way.
Without warning, he stumbled out of the tree line into a wide clearing. Quickly taking a few steps back, his eyes darted around the wide area for any sign of life. The only thing visible was a medium-sized cabin that looked as if it hadn’t been inhabited for dozens of years. Thick tangles of ivy and other vines grew over the structure, obscuring the windows and hanging over the door.
Dean glanced around a few more times before a loud peal of thunder sent him racing toward the door. Rain began pelting down in sheets. He grabbed the handle, pushing his shoulder against the door as he turned it.
Expecting to see a dusty barren interior, Dean’s eyes widened at the dozens of candles that covered all of the flat surfaces in the cabin. The sudden flinging open of the door caused the flames on some of them to flicker out but the majority of the flames danced higher.
Dean’s hand automatically went to the silver knife on his hip. This whole situation wasn’t sitting quite right with him. Granted he didn’t have the sense of impending doom but who stumbles across a cabin full of lit candles and doesn't lose their life?
As his eyes adjusted to the candlelight, Dean noticed a figure sitting at the far end of the room, facing away from him. He would have almost mistaken it for some kind of dummy if he didn’t see the shoulders rise and fall slightly as the person breathed.
“Hey!” Dean barked out. “Who are you?”
“I would think I should ask that question since you barged into my home uninvited,” a deep, rough voice replied.
Dean ignored the shivers that raced down his spine and hefted his knife more firmly in his hand. “In my defense, I needed a shelter from the storm and this place doesn’t scream inhabited. I mean that outside is overgrown with vines.”
The figure still refused to face Dean. “Did it ever occur to you that perhaps I like my house like that?”
“Uh, no,” Dean stated. “I hadn’t given it much thought.”
“Maybe you should,” the man smoothly replied. “And you should think about knocking before you barge into people’s homes too.”
“Dude, I apologized.” Dean rolled his eyes, more frustrated than wary of the stranger.
“Actually, you didn’t.” The man rose to his feet and finally turned to face Dean. Dean’s eyes widened. He thought the man had been wearing some type of black outfit but now he could see that the guy was wearing loose black sweatpants and didn’t have a shirt on at all. What Dean had thought was a hoodie or big t-shirt was actually a pair of dense black wings tucked tightly against his back.
“You’re…” Dean stuttered. “What are you?”
The man smiled. “Well the polite question would be to ask my name but that’s okay. I’m Castiel, an angel of the Lord.”
Dean let out a bark of laughter. “That’s real cute. Angels aren’t real.”
Castiel edged closer. “You don’t have faith.”
Dean’s fingers tightened over the knife in his hand. “No, I don’t believe in things that aren’t real.”
“Your mother told you that angels were watching over you. She may not have realized her words were true but they were.” Castiel’s fingers closed around Dean’s, easing them off of the knife. “I promise that you’re not in any danger here.”
“Why are you here? Shouldn't you be in heaven or something, playing a harp and answering prayers?” Dean’s legs shook. The sheer power radiating off of this creature, this Castiel, was palpable.
Castiel snorted. “We don’t play harps. And I decided that I wanted solitude.” His wings twitched slightly. “My brothers and sisters were more than willing to let me live in solitude. I don’t exactly,” he paused, wings puffed up. “I’ve never fit in so, as long as I don’t interfere with humanity, I’m allowed this cabin in this clearing to meditate and seek peace.”
Dean stayed silent for a few moments, digesting it all.
“But wait,” he finally said. “Haven’t ya broken that by talking to me?”
Sadness flirted across Castiel’s face before he schooled his features. “Unfortunately that’s correct. I’m able to mask your presence until the morning but then you’ll have to be on your way.”
Dean’s heart lurched. “What will happen to you?”
Castiel finally touched Dean, placing a warm hand reassuringly on Dean’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about me. You should eat something and rest. You’ll have a long hike ahead of you tomorrow.”
“I was afraid of that,” Dean grumbled. His face split into a grin when he noticed a fresh cherry pie sitting on the kitchen counter.
“You can have a slice,” Castiel piped up. “After you eat some real food first.”
After second helpings of dinner and pie, which Dean has moaned over, he curled up on the couch, staring into the fire that Castiel had just built. He started when the couch sank under Castiel’s weight.
“Please tell me you won’t be hurt because of me,” Dean murmured, eyes never leaving the flames.
“I will be fine,” Castiel said. Anyone else would have accepted it, but Dean heard the slight wave of his voice. He turned to Cas to protest but felt two fingers press against his forehead. Sleep washed over him and he slumped forward. Before he sank completely, he felt fingers brush his hair and a soft whisper.
“I’d take any consequences for meeting you, if only for a night.”
Dean awoke with a gasp the next morning. Warm green light filled the cabin. Before he could get up, Castiel bustled into the room, carrying a full pack and Dean’s jacket.
“Dean you need to leave at once. I should have had you on the road long before now but,” he paused, wings twitching. “You looked peaceful. I didn’t want to disturb you.”
Dean reached for his jacket. “What’s this?” He motioned to the pack.
“Some provisions. Seriously, you need to leave.” Cas kept glancing at the ceiling, his feathers puffed up.
Hurrying to the door, Dean stepped outside. Before Cas could shut the door, Dean shoves his foot in the way.
“I can’t,” he said. Cas’ mouth opened to protest but Dean placed a finger on Cas’ lips. “I can’t leave without doing this.” He leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on Cas’ lips.
As he started to pull back, Cas’ hands shot out, burying themselves in Dean’s hair, yanking Dean back in for a fiery kiss. Foreheads pressed together, Cas whispered, “Thank you. But please leave Dean. I can’t have you here when they arrive.”
Dean placed one more kiss on Cas before jogging to the clearing edge. He glanced back, heart seizing at Cas standing in the doorway, but he turned back and headed into the woods.
Only a handful of minutes had passed before a brilliant light flooded the forest behind Dean. A sonic boom split the silence.
“Cas,” Dean whispered before tearing back through the forest. When he reached the clearing, he was met with nothing.
No cabin, no plot of garden, no sign that anyone had ever been there.
Dean dropped to his knees, and a tear slipped down his face.