Is somebody there beyond these heavy aching feet?
Still the road keeps on telling me to go on
Something is pulling me
I feel the gravity of it all
Dean was not the praying type, and everyone knew it. Only in his most weak and desperate moments would he admit he needed help. It was the hardest thing in the world to realize he had fallen into such a time, lining up beer bottles and trying to count the minutes on the clock, just waiting for things to get better.
Just take the pain away.
It would have been annoying if he were sober, but he was glad the stupid thing gave him a sense of time, of some little sense of place in this motel room. Otherwise, he might have floated away and left absolutely nothing behind. There was so little left of the old Dean, the one who fiercely took down everything in his path.
He reached groggily for his cell phone, attempting to dial Sam's number only to realize that his brother would be asleep in bed. In his house, which he owned. His apple pie life was just beginning, and he couldn't be happier.
'And where am I?' Dean thought bitterly.
The clock continued to tick.
Eyes settling on a painting on the opposite wall, Dean raised his glass.
"To you!" he slurred, only to lower his glass and sigh as he realized the painting had angel wings.
"You did it, Sammy," he told no one in particular. "You made it out. And I'm sitting here a drunken mess because my angel flew back home. At least one of us is happy."
Though Dean's words were bitter, he meant the last part. He didn't have to be happy, but it was a basic necessity for him that Sam would be. Once the battles were won, Sam had settled into a house and got his white picket fences, and Dean? Dean was where he would always be: alone with a bunch of salt and guns, waiting for the next monster, the next challenge. Always wondering which one would be the one to kill him.
He slammed down the bottle, lining it up with the others. For some reason, he felt it necessary that they were in line.
"Wish you were here, Cas. To make me laugh, to make some stupid joke that only you think is funny. I just really wish you would come back," Dean told no one but himself, because no one else cared at the moment. Wishing Castiel was here would not do anything but sadden him, so he pushed away the thoughts.
Stretching, he stood and looked around the room, deciding that it was time he packed up so he could leave in the morning. Maybe he envied Sam's life a little bit too much, because he had taken to bringing his clothes and things in the room and trying to make everything look more homely.
It was as he was bending to pick his leather jacket up that shift occurred. It was slight, scarcely noticeable, but there in a way Dean felt pressing against his chest with unease.
The clock had stopped ticking.
He turned slowly, muscles tensed. Every single bit of his being told him to run, to leave and not come back. Instead, he straightened himself, jaw set, and he faced Castiel.
"Thought you weren't going to show your face again? Humans aren't good enough to be graced with your presence, right?"
Inside, he was burning. Here was Castiel, his angel, and the only thing that ever had given him a link to sanity, back as if he had never been gone. As if he hadn't vanished without a goodbye, without giving Dean closure.
"You were always good enough, Dean," Castiel said, eyes cast downward.
Dean eyed him mistrustfully; frowning deeper as he realized Castiel still had Jimmy Novak's body. There was always something that felt wrong about possessing someone. Sure, Jimmy had agreed, but this could not be what he wanted. Flying around Heaven at ultra-speed and dealing with angel drama. It sounded like Hell, which was severely ironic.
"I carried his soul out. I was left with the body. Almost as if I had fallen, but not quite."
Dean blinked, feeling a bit of heat rise to his face. He had forgotten Castiel could do this kind of crap; invade your personal space, your mind, and shatter your heart like you were some pre-teen girl with her first crush.
"So what do you want, Cas?"
The angel's mouth twitched into an almost shy smile.
"Heaven has become almost dull, but I've watched over you for several months now and I decided you needed me rather badly. Before you drank yourself to death."
The bottles gleamed tauntingly as Dean cursed. How could he protest to Castiel that he was fine, when all those bottles were lined up, uniform as soldiers, all carrying some guilt of his?
"And of course. I need you," he murmured, once again becoming interested in the cheap carpeting.
"Heaven going to let you go?" Dean asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
There was a slight, nearly imperceptible rustle of feathers as suddenly Castiel moved forward, brushing his lips across Dean's softly. The routine had been so well rehearsed, the dance so visited, that Dean responded automatically, leaning forward and groaning low in his throat.
Before Castiel had zipped off to Heaven, before Dean had buried everything he was under alcohol, before everything went to hell, he and Castiel had this.
Like horses on a merry go round chasing the same patterns, but perfectly content as the world went by. They simply followed after one another; not questioning, not thinking. They were just a well-oiled machine; Live, love, and kill the supernatural. As girly as that sounded, as if it belonged on a bumper sticker, Dean wanted it again. So badly.
Castiel chuckled, knowing good and well what he was doing to Dean, but still he drew back.
"Why now?" Dean asked, trying his best to sound pissed, but it was so hard when his lips were tingling and his heart was thudding.
"Because I'm done waiting for you to start your life. I heard your prayer a moment ago. That was what I was waiting for."
Dean opened his mouth and closed it several times, eyes wide.
"That's it?" he asked hoarsely. "That's all I had to do for you to come back? All these months?"
Castiel smiled before turning his head to the window.
"I'll do my best to come back, Dean. I don't know how long it will take to convince my…superiors…to let me go. But I will do whatever it takes."
Looking around the room, Dean realized that there was a certain stillness that had not been in the air before, and a thin haze that clung to the floors.
"I'm dreaming aren't I?" he asked aloud, but the room was empty.
The clock began to tick again.
As he opened his eyes groggily, he studied the clock and realized he had been asleep for almost ten hours. Sitting up with a new resolve, he gathered the bottles and tossed them in the trash without any consideration for whoever was going to have to deal with it later.
There was more beer in the fridge, but whatever. Happy birthday to whoever rented this room after him.
For the first time in so long, he didn't have the urge to call Sam just to have someone to say something to, to convince him maybe things would get better. He knew they would.
Castiel did not come for him for another few months, but by that time, Dean had found his rhythm again. He killed demons, werewolves, and vampires, and then returned to his motel room, sipping water and talking aloud. Not to himself, but to the angel, so that Castiel would know he hadn't forgotten either.
Castiel must have been busy, but there were certain little things that made Dean know he was still watching, and still fighting for THEM. There was a rose on his bed one day-cheesy and absolutely something Castiel would think appropriate. Dean hated flowers, but it rested in the passenger's side seat several weeks after it had died, serving as a placeholder for someone else.
There was an instance where he went to the store to buy more bottled water, only to come back and find the fridge full of it. He cursed, laughed a little, then sat down in the floor and worked himself in to hysterics as he pictured Castiel resting on a cloud snickering, as Dean realized his trip had been in vain because Castiel watched over him and he always would.
Ten days before Christmas Dean booked a stay at the best hotel yet, just as a Merry Christmas to himself. It was near enough to Sam's house that he could drive and think before having to deal with his brother's puppy eyes and his baking. God forbid Dean had to eat his charcoaled cookies.
He had found himself not on a merry go round, but on a clock.
Just waiting, for that moment when he would hit the right time, for the seconds when Castiel would return.
Dean headed to the park one day, which was empty, because normal people had families to attend to this close to the holidays, and Dean had no one at the moment. There were no jobs here and for once Dean was glad. He just wanted to think today; to not necessarily be alone, but be alone so that it was only him and hopefully Castiel watching over him.
So he walked three times around the tiny park before sitting on the bench to watch the sky. The itch to call Sam awoke in him, but he pushed it away. He didn't need to bother him now, especially not since Sam informed him a sweet girl was coming around for dinner with them.
"I've been seeing her for a while," Sam confessed the day before. "I just wanted to be sure things worked out before I told you. You can bring a girl, too Dean."
He added the last part hesitantly, almost as if the territory was dangerous and he was being careful of his footing.
"I know, Dean, I know. I'm just not used to this…you."
His brother had never really known for sure about Dean and Castiel, but he had a hunch, and his hunches were usually right. When Dean stopped bringing girls around, he knew his suspicions were right.
Dean watched fondly as two children chased each other around the swings before their parents called them away. They headed home, maybe to prepare for Christmas, or whatever they celebrated at this time of the year. He wondered if they were going to wrap presents tonight, and what gifts they would be playing with.
Sighing, he realized was becoming so old. Drinking water, folding his clothes in the hotel room, and now he was sitting on bench enjoying the weather and the people that passed by.
As he looked skyward, he noticed the gray clouds were softly lined with white and even a teeny bit of blue. The wish for snow was barely formed in his head when it happened, as if the sky unfolded its arms and unleashed a blanket upon him. He wasn't cold, but as the snow piled up, he wondered if maybe he should head home and rest before he got sick. Castiel wouldn't be delighted to see him sneezing and slobbering.
He placed his hands on his knees, ready to heave himself up when he saw it.
A sole black feather, spiraling downward with the snow.
"Castiel," Dean whispered, feeling his face break out into a ridiculous grin. He stood up, reluctance forgotten, and threw out his arms.
A couple drove by, slowed down, then sped up, firmly believing the man in the leather jacket had lost his mind and was maybe enjoying the snow a bit too much.
Castiel had finally come home to him, just in time for Christmas. For Sam's horrible burnt cookies, and just in time for Dean to force him into an ugly Christmas sweater.
Maybe cheesy entrances weren't his thing, but Dean grinned foolishly as three more feathers followed the first, and then the angel. His angel.
An angel that fit perfectly into his arms, not as if the angel were fitted for him, but as if all his work and pain and loss had shaped him enough to fit the angel.