Castiel remembers the first moment when he had seen Dean Winchester’s soul down in Hell, when he saw the tattered remains of the Righteous Man’s soul slumped and unconscious, taken out by the siege that Heaven had laid to Hell in order to retrieve him. He had felt the moment the seal was broken, the first seal that fractured and shattered the moment the Righteous Man spilled blood down in Hell—but still he had fought, he battled and cleaved through the army in order to get to Dean Winchester, even if it was a lost cause by now.
The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it.
He remembers how he had grabbed that broken soul, so splintered and fractured that it was a miracle by itself that it was still whole. Castiel remembers how he grabbed Dean Winchester’s soul and pulled it all the way out from the pits of Hell, how he threw it up with all the strength he could muster even as hellhounds and all sort of demons were after him, to drag back Dean Winchester and keep him pinned in Hell because with his brother down in Hell and never able to return to life, Sam Winchester was straight on the road to damnation and towards being Lucifer’s vessel.
So he had grabbed Dean Winchester, had grabbed him and tossed him up, raising him out of perdition and back into life. He had been there the moment his soul returned to his half-rotting body, four months spent six feet under when it had been forty years down in Hell. He remembered the impact it caused, the sheer power of that resurrection that could have only come from the one destined to be Michael’s vessel if the Apocalypse ever came.
He remembers his attempts to speak to Dean Winchester, remembered how it had failed when his true voice couldn’t reach him, when he finally came down with his vessel and came face to face with Dean Winchester and felt the surge of disappointment that ran through him when he realized that the Sword of Michael was nothing like he had imagined it to be. He had always thought of the Righteous Man as somebody… somebody who was in no way like Dean Winchester, a man with little faith, a man who broke after thirty years in Hell and caused the first seal to Lucifer’s prison to shatter. Maybe he should have expected less.
But then came everything else that happened—and Castiel didn’t know when he started to trust in Dean Winchester, but he had, and he could never stopped. Not even after Heaven dragged him back and tried to drill otherwise into his head, not even when Sam Winchester started the Apocalypse by freeing Lucifer. Not even when he had been blown into pieces by Raphael and then resurrected for some reason or another. He had been cut off from Heaven, deemed a rebel and a traitor and lost so much—but he still believed in Dean Winchester, believed in the Righteous Man who did what he believed had been Righteous, who didn’t choose to bow down to Heaven’s will even when everything else was against him, when he was lost and hurt and so much more broken then Castiel had ever seen him, even back in Hell.
They had fought so hard, had fought so much, had battled again and again and constantly denied Heaven what they wanted even if things were impossible, when things just seemed to never work. They fought and they battled and they believed, and Castiel clung onto that belief, clung onto it so hard because it was all he had left, all he could hold onto with God not caring and there was nothing else he could let himself believe him. He believed in Dean Winchester’s choices, trusted in what the Righteous Man wanted to believe in himself and gave everything for those beliefs. He believed in so much, and then Dean Winchester spat it all back in his face by running to Heaven after everything they had done, after everything they had been through.
Rage was something that Castiel rarely felt, but he felt it bubbling through him, the remains of his Grace bubbling like water on a stove for far too long as he grabbed Dean and shoved him up the wall. He could barely make out the surprised shout of ‘what, are you crazy?!’ from the human as he grabbed the other by the lapels of his jacket shoved him to the side, shouting before he could process the words properly.
“I rebelled for this?!”
He had believed, he had trusted, he had put all of his remaining faith in the one who had fought so hard against everything he had once thought was true, and now everything was just falling apart. After so long, Dean Winchester was just giving up like that, and after everything—everything—Castiel could not take it.
Castiel grabbed Dean by one of the lapels of his jacket and shoved him up the wall again with inhuman strength, his other free hand curled into a tight fist as he punched him again and again, all but snarling in his face as he pressed the human harshly against dirty brick wall behind him for a moment. “So that you could surrender to them?” He tossed him to the other side, making sure that Dean wasn’t going to go anywhere against that alley wall as he punched him in the gut twice, ignoring the pleas that came from the human. He had always relented, always forgave and always forget because he was an angel of the Lord, because that was what he was supposed to do—but no more, he could not take this anymore.
More shoving now, and Castiel did his best to ignore the dribble of blood that came out from Dean’s mouth as he growled, anger just barely boiling under his usually cool voice. “I gave everything for you, and this is what you give to me.”
Everything. He had given everything—his Grace, his loyalty, his trust, his beliefs—everything he had given up and lost, burned to the ground the moment he chose to side with Dean Winchester and rebelled against his orders, against Heaven. He gave everything an angel could have given, and all he got was a coward who had decided to give up after everything because he didn’t want to try anymore. It infuriated him—it angered him that he had believed that Dean Winchester could be better than this, would be better at this, but yet all his beliefs had been false instead.
He punched him again and kicked him with enough force to hit the wire fence at the end of the alley, and Castiel watched as Dean Winchester landed on the ground, blood dribbling from his lips and nose and from a cut at the side of his face. He had seen the human with worse injuries than this, but now Castiel couldn’t just help but think how weak, how pathetic Dean Winchester was now when all he could remember was that broken, tattered soul down in Hell that still somehow managed to shine within the darkness. The soul of the Righteous Man had burned so strongly then in his hands, but now seeing it within the human only made it all so weak, so broken. So vulnerable.
His fist was still clenched, trembling in his rage as he stared down and the human who asked him to ‘Do it, just do it.’ Castiel was tempted now, more than ever. He wanted to scatter Dean’s atoms across the universe over and over and just make him understand the pain he felt now, the sheer betrayal of his intentions. After giving up everything for him, this was all that Dean was going to do as repayment—even when they were still trying, still hoping, still knowing that Sam Winchester wasn’t going to say ‘yes’ to Lucifer because there was still his brother and Bobby Singer beside him.
Castiel looks down at Dean Winchester though, makes himself stare down and just look for a moment, to see the look in the human’s eyes, to see the desperation and the unspoken words of This is the only way and I have to do it Cas, please just understand that is written on Dean’s face, that resounds in his mind even though the angel isn’t reading it. Because he does know Dean Winchester—knows him inside and out, knows him because he was the one who gripped him tight and raised him from perdition; he was the one who remade his body from scratch and wrapped his broken, tattered soul inside and around it. He knew every atom and every molecule that was in Dean Winchester’s body, because he was the one who made it right out from scratch.
Most of all, he knows that Dean is only doing this because he’s tired of trying, and he’s tried so hard on so many things but it just fails him, again and again, and Castiel just wonders how he could have kept trying for so long, to push himself forward still even as his world breaks apart around him. Castiel’s himself already so tired of trying when he’s just started after so many years, and Dean’s still doing it, even more than he ever could. He remembers the words that Dean gave to Gabriel at their last meeting, meaning just as much to the archangel as it had been to himself, the regret that always hangs within him because he couldn’t stop his brother from succumbing to his addiction, the darkness within him.
Castiel releases his fist, feeling the anger wash out from him as the realization seeps into his brain and he steps forward, reaching out as Dean instinctively tries to shrink back. He watches as the human’s eyes roll to the back of his head as he instantly slips into unconscious when Castiel touches him on the shoulder, channelling his power to take him out, putting him out like a light.
He draws back, a small sigh escaping his lips as he glances down at Dean, looking at his prone, unconscious form so much like how when he saw the soul of the Righteous Man for the first time all the way down in Hell, remembering the light it shone there and then. The light may be dimmer now, but Castiel tells himself that he will brighten it up again, and he will restore the faith that Dean Winchester had lost because he is the angel who brought him back to life, and he will be the angel who will make the Righteous Man believe once more, to have him trust that what he does is right—not for everybody else, but for himself and for those who have faith in him.
And as for Castiel, he has belief in Dean Winchester—and it is a belief that he will never lose no matter what.