He has very few memories from before. A handful at most, and not one of them is about heaven. He'd spent hundreds, thousands of years as an angel and the only thing he can remember is a face. A damned beautiful face, sure, but for a pair of pretty green eyes to outshine his memory of heaven? It shouldn't be possible.
Then again, the memories themselves shouldn't have been there. But he knows. The knowledge is bone deep, has been there ever since he can remember. His first memory was of that face. Not of his mother, or his father, or the nice nurse that had held his hand when he'd gotten his tonsils out. No, it was that face with the nice smile and the sad green eyes and the spattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose. And it was the name that went with it.
He's known that he wasn't entirely normal since day one. He'd realized it sometime in the middle of kindergarten. When other kids his age had been drawing fire trucks and racecars he was drawing that face. Green eyes and a smile, lips turned up as if they'd caught on the edge of a laugh. When they were playing cops and robbers he was watching the sky, remembering the feel of the clouds against his cheeks and the wind ruffling wings that no human would ever see.
When he was six he'd had his first nightmare. He remembers it because it had been different, abnormal. He'd had nightmares before, the normal kid ones where he'd gone running to his mother and father yelling and crying and barely remembering what it was that he was crying about. No, this nightmare had been different. It had been real.
He'd been falling.
He was in therapy by the time he was nine. Apparently all that talk of the apocalypse and angels and God and Dean had made his mother think he'd cracked. Telling her that no, he wasn't crazy, he'd been an angel of God sent to stop the apocalypse in his past life hadn't helped matters.
His therapist's name was Samuel. He was very kind and had a smile almost as nice as Dean's, and once they were safely behind closed doors and away from his nervous, twitchy, frightened mother he'd grinned and told him to call him Sam. At the time, he'd been confused by the surge of comfort he'd gotten, and the nagging feeling that there was something, something about the name Sam that was so very familiar-
But he'd shaken his head and dismissed it as another oddity that he'd picked up over the years. He'd smiled back and introduced himself for the very first time by his true name, the name that had been with him since the stars had been a mere thought in his Father's head. Castiel. He never regretted that day, and every time he arrived at that little yellow office, Sam would look up at him and grin and say Castiel with a warm laugh in his voice and it almost felt like home and he would smile, his heart swelling til' it felt like it would burst- because that was his name. His. The one that everyone had forgotten, everyone except him.
His father died during Castiel's second year of middle school. When it happened, his mother had come to him with tears streaking down her cheeks and a sob in her voice and told him in a trembling voice-
Daddy won't be coming home.
He remembers being irrationally angry. So angry that he'd snarled at her, hissing and spitting and throwing things around the room because it was happening again, another father was leaving him and he couldn't believe it and it hurt so much, remembering smiles and laughter and that damned warmth so deep in his heart-
When he collapsed on the floor he was sobbing, shaking so hard that he was almost in convulsions because fuck, why did it have to happen again- and the room was in pieces around him and there were sirens singing him to sleep loud in his ears-
He welcomed the darkness. It was quiet there.
He woke up to familiar brown hair and brown eyes in the wrong face. The eyes were too large and the hair wasn't long enough and the skin was too pale, gleaming too white where he was expecting golden brown. By the time he thought to wonder, because this was the Sam he'd known since he was nine, the Sam with the happy grin and the yellow office and the calming voice, he knew why. Knew that he wasn't expecting to see Sam of the yellow office but Sam Winchester. Sam of the sad puppy eyes, Sam of the deep gravelly voice, Sam who'd ached for humanity so much that he'd drank the blood of a demon just to try to save them. Poor Sam, the Sam who'd started the apocalypse and resurrected Lucifer all while trying to help.
He'd been expecting to wake up to Sam and Dean, to their concerned faces and Dean's harsh laugh that he always used when he was trying to hide how worried he'd actually been. The disappointment was colossal.
By the time he actually found Dean, he was a month shy of his sixteenth birthday. He'd spent years looking for Dean, years of struggling through puberty with only one person on his mind. Years of frustration and anger and his own hands fisted around his cock when all he wanted was Dean's. Dean's hands, Dean's mouth, Dean's body, his voice, anything. He missed being able to close his eyes and feel Dean wherever he was, even if he was across the country, across an ocean even-
But all he'd had was a computer and a shitty memory of all the alias' that the Winchester's had used.
Eventually though, his work had paid off because in upstate New York a certain Detective Robert Plant was living in a small apartment just outside of Buffalo. At first he'd been apprehensive, because this was Dean. The Dean he'd been dreaming about since he was two years old, the Dean who probably wouldn't even recognize the new blue eyes, just a shade different than the old ones, or the sandy brown hair or the pale skin. He'd just be some weird kid who showed up on his doorstep babbling about long forgotten memories.
Sixteen years was a long time. A long time to listen to the whisper of angels, to hear the trees calling your name, to remember the feel of a love so complete that he wishes he'd just taken a chance when he could have.
And so he went and there was the door, worn and red before him and he was still so scared. But he wanted that smile again, wanted it directed at him and not just a whisper of a memory.
His knocks were loud, echoing in the deserted hallway, down and around the spiral staircase from whence he came and he could still go back, still turn around and go back to his life with his mother in their dead house and listen to the whispers of the angels all around him-
Dean was older now. There were lines creasing his face, laugh lines and frown lines both, and his hair had gone gray at the temples but he was still Dean. Dean. There, in the flesh, looking at him with confusion in those pretty green eyes and a frown digging a crease in his brow.
He smiled. He couldn't help it. He smiled and tried not to look like a gawky teenager with knobby knees and scuffed elbows and more like the statuesque, monotonous angel from his memory. And then he leaned forward, his eyes sliding closed, and pressed his lips to Dean's for the first time.
The kiss itself wasn't all that spectacular, but the onslaught of memories that came with it most certainly were. There'd been pain, so much pain that he'd thought he'd snap from it. He remembers now, remembers sobbing and screaming into Dean's ear and Anna's words coming back to him- like carving out your liver with a butter knife. He remembers shoving away from the warmth of Dean's arms, shoving away and looking up at him with anguish in his eyes. Dean had been so confused- and the gleam of hurt in his eyes had made Castiel wonder, for just a moment- what if-
And then his world had blown apart and the next thing he knew he was a year and a half old and gasping out the name he'd meant to say in those last moments of his previous life -Dean-
He pulled away just long enough to lean back and look up at Dean, whose eyes had gone wide in recognition and whisper-