He’s back in that field, the one in Illinois that for a short little while was his final resting place, dead man standing atop his own grave after a good few years of breathing air again. It’s changed over the time, the brittle grass growing in greener, a few sprouts emerging from the dark soil here and there, the area once reeking of death once again teeming with life, or at least starting to again.
Still, the once towering trees that surrounded Dean’s former resting place lie fallen on the ground, wood rotting and decomposing, sinking back into the earth. Their purpose as the natural walls of Dean’s sepulchral citadel is long over, and now they must return to the riches of the earth, replenishing the dirt to nourish and support new life. The small wooden cross still sits in the ground, tilted and weathered, no longer a symbol of death, now just a reminder of what was. And maybe someday weeds will climb up the battered planks, suffocating the lingering airs of death with blooming life, creation covering destruction, the cycle going on.
The cool night wind gently blows against Dean’s face, caressing his cheeks, bringing the scents of moistened grass blades and hidden wild flowers. It rained earlier, an overpowering earthy smell hovering thick in the field, but it’s not a bad smell in the least.
He stares down at his grave, sparse patches of grass growing over the uneven heap he once slept beneath, expecting eternal repose, only for it to be ephemeral. In the end, they’d need him—the angels—coming and claiming him to be the righteous man, the Michael’s sword, the most important man in the universe. But only because he fit into their game, their little so-called ineffable plan that ended a little differently. But now the Apocalypse is over, and now Dean finds himself bathing in memories, leaving his brother in the motel to retreat into the realm of peaceful dreams and letting him wander and amble through the fog of reminiscence, some nostalgic, others haunting.
And as he gazes down at the crooked little marker, drowning in the deep waters of recollection, a thunderclap breaks the silence. His ears perk, recognising the sound of those flapping wings, the wings of that angel, the one who descended into the sweltering pit of fire, blood, and pain solely to grip him tightly and raise him. He’s the reason Dean isn’t still Alastair’s pupil, why he’s not still down there cutting and tearing at the other doomed sinners, why the blackness never consumed his soul, corrupting him, dying his heart and his eyes an ominous ebony. No, Dean’s alive, alive and human, fit and healing.
Thanks to Castiel.
He glances next to him, only to see the angel right at his side, close enough for Dean to brush shoulders with him and feel the heat of his hand. Castiel’s blue eyes, the ones wondrous enough to be stars themselves, are fixed on the cross. As always, he appears solemn and pensive, that sort of enigmatic look that makes Dean wonder what’s going on inside that labyrinthine angel mind of his.
A gust of wind blows, whistling as it rushes against the two. Castiel’s trenchcoat fans around him, but he remains immovable, a statue placed right next to Dean. But he can’t stop staring, afraid that if he blinks he’ll miss everything.
Castiel, still silent, turns his head and looks up, gaze so powerful and intense that it penetrates Dean’s soul. Or at least it feels that way. Actually, it always feels that way. It used to be uncomfortable, invasive, creepy; but those eyes have grown on him, and over the course of mere months he recognised that gaze as one of care, one of devotion, one of tenderness and concern, hope and faith, pure and profound love.
He recalls the first night they met, the one in the warehouse, all the sparks flying and the sheets rumbling. And after Castiel confessed to Dean what happened, why he was there, what he had done and his reasoning; Dean denied it. So the angel tilted his head, nonplussed at the thought that Dean of all people didn’t believe he deserved salvation. Those words ring in his mind (“What’s wrong? You don’t think you deserve to be saved?”) as he again stares into those blue blue eyes, only this time he’s looking beyond the simple scintillating colour and more at the radiant celestial light stored inside, a comet caught in a jar, magnificent and proving the impossible just by existing. This all goes way over Dean’s head, too taken aback by the surrealism of it all, like these past few years have been a dream or something, though he knows well that he lived through all that torment and toil.
“What are you doing here?” Castiel enquires, gravelly voice smooth and soothing, soft and light as the breeze dancing around them.
Dean’s lips flatten. He really doesn’t have an answer, or at least not one that he can explain in a sentence or two. He doesn’t want to give a long explanation on how he lied in bed, still awake, mind buzzing, and out of nowhere the idea of wandering out to his old burial spot popped into his brain, and on a whim he thought ‘What the hell?’ and went along with it. He’s here because he just is, no other reason, but he’s not sure if that’s enough to satiate Castiel’s curiosity.
He shrugs—which isn’t much better—and tilts his head, “What about you?”
Castiel opens his mouth, but hesitates, searching for the words but none of them fit together the way he wants. Words are difficult, language something Castiel considers quite hard. Stringing these phrases together and hoping they’ll paint the right picture is something he just never dealt with much in Heaven. There was always a sort of understanding among the angels, but humans took those ideals and made them much more complex, much more challenging, much more interesting and meaningful. Yet in their cultivation of communication, some words lost their meaning, others became trite and dull, and then there were some things that the words just couldn’t capture. Castiel feels this is one of those moments when no combination of twenty-six letters can get it right, unable to umbrella this all under a simple sequence of strategically placed words.
So, mimicking Dean, he rolls his shoulders, going for a shrug but ending up with some awkward yet graceful movement. Dean understands that pretty well, nodding, no intention of pressing the angel anymore than the angel did him.
Neither of them know when to look away, both of them reluctant to turn their heads and be the one to carry the blame of breaking their gaze, end their unspoken conversation. They talk much more with their eyes than anything else, meeting some middle-ground in the stares and the looks, even the subtle brushes and occasional touches. But when the time comes for them to turn their heads, they do so at the same time, precise and synchronised.
Their eyes fall on the former grave, stillness covering them like the velvet blanket of night and stars above, and that’s all they do for a really long while. Stare and remember, leaning on each other’s company, the memories building up around all around them. A palace forms, materialising, with Dean and Castiel alone in the main chamber, gazing not at a bed of death but an alter of life.
Tragic as it was, torturing as it was, this is what brought them together. And it wasn’t fate or destiny, since they both spat in the faces of those two vying to control their lives, defying all odds to get up to this moment. Them together. Beneath the stars. In this field. Alive and well. The end averted. Happiness finally in their grasps.
Dean’s hand slips into Castiel’s, intertwining his fingers. As his grip tightens, his left shoulder tingles, the handprint sensing something. That’s the mark Castiel gave him, after all, the seal binging them in a way no other has achieved. A bond between angel and human, a bond of Grace and soul, a bond between the one petrified to fall and the one afraid to fly. Because they meet somewhere in the middle, where their essences mingle and interlock; and to them it’s all perfect.
“You did a good job putting me back together,” Dean remarks, smirking as his eyes shift back over to the angel. He sees Castiel look down at the hand, studying the hold a minute, and then looking up at him in wonder. He’s still learning how to be human, and this is definitely note-worthy.
His muscles relax, slender shoulders sagging, heavy coat weighing them down. The slightest smile curves on his lips, genuine and sincere, more brilliant than the rising sun. It’s a calming bliss that flows through him, and Dean too.
“I did,” Castiel agrees. His bony fingers curl around Dean’s, squeezing their palms together, returning the gesture. This is one of those signs of affection, those gestures tender passion and warming amore humans are so fond of. And he sees exactly why.
The stars twinkle in the sky, and with another soft gust of wind, the marker tumbles over and breaks the chains of death and dark, for now there is only love and light.