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2013 – NEW YORK. United States of America.

"Mister Novak, please sit down."

The impassive face of Dr. Richings wasn't good omens, but his deep and serene voice was soothing, almost reassuring and Jimmy found the assurance in him to sit in one of the leathery armchairs that faced him.

He knew why he was here, since he started coughing up blood, Jimmy didn't give himself much time to live, still he wasn't sure he wanted to put a name on what was slowly killing him. Right now, ignorance seemed sweeter.

"Your results came in from the laboratory this morning. We can see th..."

"Go to the point. Please. Doctor." Said Jimmy rotating his index in the air as if trying to make it run faster. After all he wanted to know. To know quickly and leave far, far away from this dreary office.

Without showing any kind of surprise (he must have often been the bearer of such bad news), docteur Richings proceeded:

"You are dying and I am afraid there is nothing we can do. This tumor in your brain is..."

"How long?" He asked, his heart was racing like the secondhand of a watch, he couldn't bear it anymore. Now he knew. He was going to die. But how soon? How fast?

"A month, maybe two. No longer." Said doctor Richings, his voice still calm, emotionless. "I can only advise you to enjoy your last moments mister Novak. Travel, spend some time with your family, make one of your dream come true." They both stayed silent for a moment. "I am deeply sorry."

Sorry? Was that some kind of bad joke? Did he really think the apologies of an old gloomy man in black suit and white blouse would miraculously make everything alright? Did he expect… No. No, he probably knew how vain everything he could have said was, he was just doing his job, playing his role.

What was the point of getting upset over all this? Jimmy sure didn't have any time to lose with this kind of strifes now.

He forced a smile to pierce through the corner of his lips and got up, reaching out a stiff hand toward doctor Richings.

Travel? He couldn't afford it. See his family? Surely they wouldn't want to see him after how he left them. So he had one last option, make one of his dream come true and on that matter, Jimmy had become a master over the years.

He had someone to see. Tonight.

 

***

A long time ago – NORTH OF BRITANNY. France.

"Look at us, halfway in the manure when they're strutting on their big fat steeds!" With disgust, Dean spat and turned his back on the convoy of horses passing slowly through the village.

"If you hate them so much, just ignore them Dean" said Sam emptying a shovel full of dung over the wooden fence, examining with meticulous eyes the horsemen in their flamboyant clothes.

Most of them had familiar faces, faces Sam had never seen very closely, but he still recognized them like any common man would have. The sons of king Samael liked to run the country on their steeds and for that reason, everybody knew approximately how they looked like.

One of them though, was a complete stranger. It was a young man, maybe fifteen or sixteen year old, around the same age as Dean. He was richly dressed, a red cloak falling heavily on the hindquarters of his black horse, his windblown dark brown hair hid occasionally his bright blue eyes.

"Do you think that's him?" Asked Sam, knowing perfectly he couldn't be wrong on the identity of the stranger judging by the luxurious armor he was wearing.

"Huh?" Dean raised his head, Sam wasn't sure he was even listening.

"Sir Castiel, future duke of I don't know where ... he's here to mary lady Meghan. Well if it's him."

"How ... no, why, do you know all this?" Mocked Dean, turning over to give a friendly push on Sam's shoulder. "So which one is the happy jailbird?"

Sam pointed at the young man on the black mount. Dean started laughing.

"What's up with him? Whether he needs to use the latrine or something is stuck up in his a..."

Sam frowned.

"Dean! Sir Castiel is of noble blood, show a little respect."

"Oh come on Sammy, look at him! Are you going to tell me there is nothing wrong with him, noble or not?"

The brothers stared at Castiel, both amused and captivated. Finally, Sam admitted with a laugh that he looked indeed a little uncomfortable and returned to his work like nothing had happened. Dean, though, couldn't take his eyes off of Castiel, he wasn't sure why and it annoyed him.

 

***

Dean always had a talent, no one knew about it, not even Sam, but it had always been in him. Every time he went to bed, he could walk in a world that wasn't his, a world he wasn't sure was real, but he still loved it more than his life. He loved it so much he sometime wished he could stay there for the rest of his life, but he couldn't leave Sam alone, could he?

He called it the Shadow World. It was not very original and since he didn't talk about it to anyone he shouldn't have felt the need to name it, but it sort of came to him, as if he didn't really choose it, as if the place named itself. The Shadow World, his kingdom, where dreams came true and everything was possible.

 

When Castiel had finally been out of sight earlier that day, Dean decided he hated him. He hated the way he looked at the villagers and how he must have thought he was better than them. He hated the exhaustion in his eyes and most of all he hated how he was wasting his time hating him.

But the following night, Dean went to bed early, not even bothering getting a drink at Ellen's like he normally did every night. He needed to know more about this noble man and as much as he couldn't stand Castiel he wanted to see more of him, to learn more about him. Luckily, Dean knew a way, the way of the Shadow World.

 

Fiding Castiel's dream had not been easy, but soon enough, Dean ended up in front of a big wooden door covered of ivy leaves and black lilies and somehow, Dean knew it was Castiel's door.

He waited there for a while. Entering someone's dream was not complicated, but was he certain he wanted to do this? Dreams were very personal and private, why was he here anyway?

With a sigh Dean banged his head against the door, but before he could touch it, the door opened itself, revealing before his eyes the most beautiful florid garden Dean had ever seen.

There, were flowers and trees Dean couldn't name, fruits he didn't even think existed, and Castiel, right in the middle of this gigantic yard, simply looking at the beauty of the place, not moving at all.

Dean did not expect this, he foolishly presumed Castiel's dream would be like every lord's he went in, a grave yard, a battlefield, full of frisky women, loud and bloody, but he was wrong.

This place was peace itself, it smelled like spring and autumn all at the same time, the sun shone with an agreeable golden light and somewhere deep in the wood, Dean could hear the mellow sound of someone playing the harp. It felt like nothing could die here, like everything was meant to live forever around Castiel, like an extension of his mind and body.

Here, he was a god. Here, he was immortal.

"Who are you?" Castiel asked without looking at Dean. Too occupied by the contemplation of bush of violet primroses. "Nobody ever come in here."

Yes, he could feel how lonely this place could be. It was beautiful, but it was true Dean didn't see any other living creature and he knew the minstrel was not real, the music was probably playing itself and nobody ever stroked the chords of the instrument. Castiel was all alone.

Still, Dean looked around himself to be sure the boy was talking to him. Of course he was.

"Oh hum, Dean." He drew nearer to shake Castiel's hand, he was not going to bow for him. "My name is Dean."

"And my name is Castiel future duk..." he marked a long pause "I am Castiel."

He watched Dean's hand with a frown and slid his own inside it with a rigidity and a graciousness Dean didn't know could cohabit.

"Come, he said, I want to show you something."

 

***

2013 – NEW YORK. United States of America.

Around 10 pm, Jimmy started to feel tired, but his lack of bed, the cold rain and the flashing lights of cars in the street kept him awake for almost five more hours.

When he finally fell asleep, he found Dean at the same place he found him last night, curled up like a baby in front of the big old door covered in dying blossom he seemed to love so much. When he heard Jimmy's footsteps, his eyes widen and he started smiling.

"Cas!" Dean said like he was the best thing that existed. "Cas, where were you?"

He jumped on his feet and ran to hug Jimmy with so much love it was overwhelming.

"I... I was... I'm here now."

Jimmy felt Dean's embrace become stronger and the guilt took over him as he hugged back.

He only met Dean yesterday, by pure hazard, but Dean acted like he already knew him. Well, no, he acted like he was certain Jimmy was a man named Castiel. A man he had been looking for, for years. A man Jimmy knew Dean was in love with.

Dean touched Jimmy's hair, then his cheek to then put a gentle hand on his shoulder. There were so much pain on his face. He tried to hide it, but Jimmy could see this frazzled sadness like he could see the green of Dean's eyes.

"Can we go in? Please."

Jimmy nodded and unlocked the door with a silver key he had since he was a little boy, but only discovered last night what its purpose was.

 

Castiel's dream must have been beautiful at some point, but now that he was gone everything was dying, rotting, the sun was setting on this formerly luxurious view and there were nothing Jimmy could do about it.

He was sure Dean knew it. He was sure he knew he wasn't really his Castiel, because Dean was undoubtedly older than the twenty five year old or so he seemed to be and he was not just some crazy man eaten alive by loneliness and desperate love. Dean was smart like a killer. Jimmy remembered too much the feeling of his cold sharp blade grazing his neck last night when he tried to explain he had no idea who Castiel was. But Dean didn't want to hear anyway, he saw Castiel in him and couldn't be contradicted, so Jimmy played along.

They both walked toward the center of the garden, Dean oblivious to the bare scenery. He saw things that weren't there anymore, heard sounds that had stopped a long time ago and Jimmy wished he could perceive it to.

After a minute, Dean turned around to face Jimmy who was staring at the knife at his belt. Maybe it was a stupid idea to be here. If Jimmy was killed in the Shadow World he was not going to wake up in the real world. But then he thought, wasn't he already dying?

"Don't you have anything to show me?" Said Dean like he did last night, asking for Jimmy to take his hand and lead him into the woods.

"Yes. I have." Said Jimmy at first a little surprised, wondering what he was going to show him this time.

But the smile on Dean's face was worth the lie.

He knew that was it.

That was what Jimmy was going to do before his own body turns completely against him. He was going to free Dean from the Shadow World and help him die.

Help him rest in peace.