Prologue: The End of the End
Even as the others are shot down around him, Castiel can’t truly believe Dean had sent them knowingly to their deaths. Blood runs from a cut at his temple and he’s unsure if the pain from his side is because there’s a bullet lodged somewhere in the flesh below his ribs or if he’s merely bruised. Either way, he knows this is the end, once and for all.
He leans heavily against the nearest wall, watching the last of the Croats fall and hoping the demons that had herded them in don’t come to investigate. He’d have trouble fending off humans at the moment, much less a demonic band of Lucifer’s most loyal followers. Though on the other hand, maybe they’d finish him off and he could get this damn dying business over with.
Soon he’s no longer able to support his weight even with the solid brick behind him, and he slinks to the ground.
Blood clouds his vision. Trying to wipe it away only smears it all over his hands. Head wounds bleed too much. He hates that. Gonna be a mess when he wakes up. If he wakes up. He’s not waking up, is he?
As darkness overtakes him, he spares a thought for Dean and hopes he’s okay. And even though Dean would no doubt view it as a betrayal, Castiel knows he hopes for Dean’s safety more than for his success. Give him a live Dean Winchester in a hellish apocalypse come to life than a dead one any day.
He sends a silent prayer to his brothers and sisters and the Father he knows are no longer listening, then passes out.
- - - -
Fate has always been cruel to Castiel (or at least since that moment when he first laid hands on a lost soul in Hell). He wakes up both numb and in pain, which is a strange mix of sensations that he wants to blame on drugs. Not enough of them or too many, but definitely the drugs in his system are making it that much harder to assess his injuries.
Fuck his injuries.
Pushing to his feet, he uses the wall for balance and heads through the abandoned building. He spares a thought for the time traveling Dean that stumbled into his cabin not so long ago. But Zachariah—asshole though he may be—will no doubt look after him. His Dean, however, might need him. Because though he doesn’t know how much time has passed, it’s certainly been long enough that Dean should’ve come looking for him. Dean always comes looking for him.
Unless he can’t.
Castiel violently suppresses that thought. Since the day he gave up his grace for that man, he made a silent deal with the cosmos that he wouldn’t take a breath past Dean Winchester’s last. Fuck the universe if it would dare go back on that now, after everything.
He pushes open the wreckage of a door that leads out back. There’s a chill to the air that’s a little too ominous. Deep in his bones, he knows. He might not be an angel anymore, but he fucking knows .
Seeing the body, so carelessly discarded as if the man is meaningless…
Something in him, some fragile little piece of hope that he’d guarded for years, finally breaks. Castiel’s wail echoes around him, but he’s beyond caring if anyone hears. Let the demons and the Croats and the devil himself come for all he cares.
His legs give out they’re trembling so much, so he crawls over to Dean’s body. He pulls his head into his lap, whining at how lifeless he now is. If he were still an angel, he could fix this. Heal the broken parts and give new life to this broken and used shell that once held the most beautiful soul he’s ever laid eyes on.
But he’s not. He’s just a fuck up, a junkie doing his best to hold it together.
Draping himself over Dean, he lets sobs shudder through him, loud and desperate. Dean’s scent lingers as he gets closer. Whiskey and blood and the annoyingly cloying scent of roses make it difficult to pick up, but underneath it all is the distinct musky smell. He pulls in huge lungfuls, savoring it because soon it’ll fade and he’ll never get the chance again.
Time is meaningless as he waits for his own death to come. He’ll wait and wait if he has to, wither away to nothing because there’s nothing left on earth that could move him from this spot. He rocks back and forth, cradling the man in his arms and willing for a miracle—any miracle—to make this not true.
It can’t be true. It can’t .
When he does happen to look up, shifting to bring Dean even closer to him, he frowns in confusion. The world itself has gone grey. At first Castiel thinks his heartache is making him see things, but no matter how much he blinks, nothing changes. Color has literally been drained out of the trees and plants, the building, everything.
He turns his gaze to the sky, a mottled black. Before his eyes it splinters and cracks. That’s… worrisome, he supposes. Someone should look into that.
Maybe Lucifer got bored of dicking around on earth and making everyone miserable. Maybe he decided to end it all for good. The thought is oddly comforting.
(There shouldn’t be a world without Dean Winchester in it anyway.)
Castiel questions whether Lucifer has the power to do that, to actually bring an end to the world. He’s never considered it, assuming his brother’s vanity and posturing that he loves their Father’s creation too much to hurt it would keep him in check. Humanity was all that was ever at stake when it came to Lucifer.
As whole chunks of the sky start to break apart along the fault lines, falling en masse to the ground, Cas questions whether he’s completely sober at the moment. A large chunk of blackness lands fifty yards away and the ground rumbles in protest. Okay, so yeah, definitely sober.
He reflexively tries to get Dean closer, to protect him from this madness. Not that there’s much point, but old habits and all that. He stays like that, clutching Dean to him and waiting for the world to fall apart around him.
“I’ll see you soon,” he whispers to unhearing ears, pressing a kiss to Dean’s forehead. The skin’s too cold, but he ignores it and peppers him with more soft kisses. “I promise.”
Blinding pain overtakes him as something hits him from behind, then blissfully there’s nothing.