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"You're looking kind of shabby, bro," Gabriel says by way of greeting. "Been a while since your wings have gotten a little TLC, huh?"

Castiel is neither amused nor impressed. Gabriel's got the same problem he has: an angel outside the Host soon finds it hard to keep his wings tidy on his own. Of course, Gabriel's had millenia of practice in personal upkeep, while Castiel's barely pushing a year. It's been a hell of a year, though, and when Gabriel reaches out and lazily fixes the lay of a pinion feather, it's hard for Castiel to remember that he's supposed to resent the archangel.

"What do you want?" he eventually manages to ask. Gabriel's smile is... strangely inoffensive, considering the source.

"What, I can't just offer my help? You're so suspicious, Castiel. Hanging out with the Winchesters is starting to rub off on you." His fingers work under the large feathers and smooth through the downy ones below, and Castiel can't help stretching that wing out a little, appreciating the attention almost despite himself. "I mean, a little reciprocation might be nice, but really I can't stand looking at your feathers in this condition. You've been ill used, man."

"I believe you're directly responsible for a few ruffled feathers yourself," Castiel says, and Gabriel clicks his tongue dismissively.

"And now I'm fixing them. C'mon, stretch this one out fully." When Castiel does, Gabriel combs his fingers through the worst-ruffled spots, carefully fixing twisted feathers and smoothing out ragged edges. "Looks like something tried to take a bite out of you," Gabriel comments as he strokes the edge of that wing. Castiel shivers a little, turning his head to look where Gabriel's touching, but he doesn't see anything wrong. "No, never mind, I fixed it. Does this feel a little better?"

"Yes." The constant irritation of having his feathers askew is halfway gone. Gabriel barely touches Castiel's right wing before it's stretched out obligingly. "Thank you," he adds belatedly, and Gabriel chuckles.

"No problem." Gabriel's hands are gentle, but he's not quick about it; his touch lingers on the long primary feathers and his fingertips dig into the downy layer like he's missed doing basic wing maintenance on another angel for a long time. Maybe he has missed it.

Castiel revises his opinion when he feels something strange on the back of his neck. Gabriel leans close, breathing warm against Castiel's skin, and presses a quick kiss to his nape, just before he lets go of Castiel's wing and steps back. "There you go. You almost look respectable again."

"I don't think you'll look respectable no matter how long I work on your wings," Castiel says, and the look Gabriel gives him is half-amused, half-surprised.

"You almost made a joke."

"I was not joking," Castiel says too gravely. Gabriel just grins and shakes his head as Castiel circles around him, reaching one hand out to touch the archangel's wings cautiously. It's easy to see the division between where Gabriel can reach himself and where he can't: half his feathers are pristine, smooth and even, and half are even more in disarray than Castiel's were.

Gabriel sighs quietly at the first brush of Castiel's fingers through skewed feathers. That's the extent of the noise he makes-- no wisecracks, no running commentary, just the occasional rush of breath he doesn't actually need as Castiel sets his wings to rights. If Castiel didn't know how long it had been since Gabriel had seen another angel, he'd be suspicious-- but he does know, and he can't even imagine the relief Gabriel must be feeling compared to his own relatively brief hiatus from proper grooming.

Castiel takes his time, paying attention to every small feather and making sure they all lie just so. There's something comforting about doing this again, something he never considered when it was something routine and always accessible. Gabriel's wings shift minutely under Castiel's focus, and he unthinkingly smooths one palm down the center of Gabriel's back, right between his wings. Then he's almost knocked over when Gabriel whirls, something raw and desperate in his face in the momentary glimpse Castiel gets before Gabriel yanks him down into a kiss.

There's barely time for Castiel to react before Gabriel lets him go, pressing the back of one hand to his mouth and looking at him like he's the one who gets to be surprised. "Thanks," Gabriel finally says, and it's all Castiel can do to nod before he takes to the air with his newly-preened wings.