"Oh Wow," Dean gasps kneeling next to the soggy cardboard box. He drops all the cans he'd stolen from the Food Bank and they clatter on the sidewalk, probably denting a few of them. Last year John had gone to the food bank and brought back a whole turkey for them, it was small and didn't have a lot of meat but it was the only meal they had shared all winter. This year though his dad hadn't come back in time from his hunting trip and the people at the food bank said he was too young to receive a donation.
The box in front of him is falling apart, dripping black letters read free to a good home across the front. Dean peers inside the box and finds a little boy curled up under a big beige coat. The boy looks like he's about Dean's age, couldn't be much older than nine, and he's sound asleep despite the bitter cold outside. Dean reaches in and pokes at the kid, "hey, are you alive?"
The boy's eyes snap open and he sits up so fast Dean jumps a little in surprise. "Who are you?"
"I'm Dean. Why are you in a box?"
"My brother left me here." The boys shoulders hunch up and Dean thinks he sees something move around beneath the jacket but doesn't say anything. "He said he didn't think he could take care of me anymore."
"Give me your hand," Dean demands and grabs the other boy's hand before he can say anything. Dean reaches into his pocket and pulls out a salt shaker he'd taken from the motel room. He dumps some salt on the stranger's palm and when his skin doesn't start bubbling, Dean nods satisfyingly. "Okay, you check out."
"I'm glad," he replies, though Dean can tell he has no idea what Dean means.
"Where are your parents?"
"Yeah, does your mommy know you're out here?"
"I don't have a mommy," the little boy shakes his head.
"I don't have a mommy either," Dean smiles sadly. He puts his hand on top of the other boys, he can feels his warmth through the coats thin material and he wonders how he can manage to stay so warm when it's so cold outside. "What's your name?"
"I am Castiel."
"Cast- Casteel- I'm going to call you Cas." Castiel tilts his head at the nickname but nods. "So where's your dad?"
"I don't know."
"Me either." Dean reaches down for the cans he'd dropped drop earlier and piles them back in his arms. "I don't have a lot of food but if you help me carry it, you can have some."
"I don't require sustenance." Dean isn't completely sure what that means but Castiel holds a hand out for one of the cans. "But I will help."
Dean hands him a can of creamed corn and Castiel tries to climb out of the box but it collapses as soon as Castiel puts pressure on it. Castiel tumbles out of the box and slides against the pavement, he pushes himself onto his knees and Dean sees a drop of blood splatter on the ground. "Are you okay!?"
Castiel turns to Dean but there's nothing there to mar his pale skin, not a single cut or scrape. "I am fine."
"I thought…" Dean trails off and shakes his head. "Come on, we got to get this food back before Sammy wakes up."
"Who is Sammy?"
"He's my baby brother, he's only five but he's super smart. He knows how to use a can opener," Dean grins. "Take your coat off, we can use it to carry all these cans. You can wear mine instead, I know it's cold."
Castiel places a hand over Dean's as he goes to unzip his coat. "That won't be necessary."
Castiel pulls his short arms out of the long sleeves and drops the beige coat next to the pile of cans. They begin to pile the can't on top of the coat until Castiel leans over to grab a can of spam. There are two fluffy wing sprouting out of Castiel's back, the white t-shirt shredded where the appendages attach to his shoulders. "What are those?"
Castiel sees Dean staring at his back and the wings shiver a little under the boys gaze. "They're my wings."
"You're not…you're not human," Dean swallows, his dad wasn't going to be happy if he knew Dean couldn't tell the difference from a human and a- whatever the hell Castiel was.
"No, of course not," Castiel says like it's the most obvious thing in the world, his brow furring.
"Are you a monster?" Dean asked nervously.
"No," Castiel shakes his head and grabs Dean's wrist when he sees him start to inch away. "Don't be afraid, I'm an angel."
"Like an angel angel?" Dean squeaks and Castiel nods. Dean's not sure what to say, so he says what his dad always does when he's surprised. "Son of a bitch."
"I've already told you, I don't have a mother."
"I didn't think angels were real," Dean tells him. "I thought they were just something we put on top of Christmas trees."
Castiel gives him a slightly terrified look. "Why would you put an angel on top of a tree?"
"Never mind," Dean mumbles and starts to pick up the rest of the cans. "Let's just hurry up so I can take you home."
They pile the rest of the bags on Castiel's coat and when there aren't any left, pull the corners of the coat together and tie them together. Castiel places the make shift bag in Dean's hands then gives him a small smile, "Close your eyes, Dean."
"Why?" Dean asks but closes his eyes before he gets an answer. Tiny fingers brush against his cheeks and it sends a warm tingle through his whole body.
"You can open them now," Castiel tells him. Dean opens his eyes but he's not in the street anymore, he's back in his motel room. At first he's too dizzy to really notice but then he hears crying coming from the other room and drop the cans he was holding to run to his brother.
"Sammy! Are you okay?" Dean jumps on the bed where Sam is clutching a pillow and crying his eyes out. Dean gently wraps his arms around Sam's shaking shoulders and hold him close.
"I- I- I- I woke up, you were gone, " Sam sobs frantically into Dean's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Sammy." Dean rubs soothing circles into his baby brother back. "I brought us food, look."
Dean points over to where Castiel is standing next to the can filled coat, looking awkward and alone. "And uh, I brought us an angel too."
"An angel?" Sam sniffles peeking out from under Dean's arms. Dean waves a hand at Castiel, motioning for him to come closer and the angel cautiously climbs onto the bed next to Sam and Dean.
"Hello, Sam, it's nice to meet you." Castiel places his palm on Sam's knee. "My name is Castiel.
"Look at these Sammy." Dean grabs Castiel's shoulder and twists him around so Sam can see his wings.
"Are those real?" Sam awes.
"Very," Castiel replies, a little insulted. Sam suddenly reaches out and runs his fingers along the white feathers, Castiel jumps a little in surprise but doesn't pull away. Castiel's wings wiggle under Sam's touch, the child giggles and reaches a hand up to the left wing. Sammy curls his fingers in the feathers and before Dean can tell him to be gentle, Sam yanks hard. Castiel yelps and in a blink of an eye disappears, a quiet woosh and a soft breeze is the only indication that he was ever there.
"Where he go?" Sam asks confused.
"I don't know, Cas?" Dean calls out but gets no response. "Sammy! You broke my angel!"
"I didn't mean to!"
"I did not like that, Sam." The brothers turn to the right to find Castiel sitting cross legged on the television and looking none too pleased. "Please do not do it again."
"I'm sorry." Sam reaches out to the angel but Castiel doesn't budge on the television.
"He won't do it again, Cas," Dean assures him, jumping off the bed and walks over to Castiel. "He doesn't get to meet too many people. He didn't learn manners from mom like I did."
Castiel purses his lips but nods and vanishes again only to reappear next to the cans again. "I believe you mentioned making dinner for your brother."
"Yeah, you hungry Sammy?" His brother eagerly nods and runs over to Castiel in the kitchen. He picks up random cans and asks Castiel to read the label for him so he can figure out what he wants to eat. Dean decides that Christmas might not suck as much as he thought it would.
Now he just had to figure out how to explain Castiel to his dad.