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Dean doesn't know how long he sat there, motionless. Eventually, he knows, he went to Kevin's body and covered his face with a tablecloth. That made the whole thing worse, so he took it off again and found himself in tears. He couldn't breathe. His phone rang several times before he could bring himself to answer.

“Yeah?” he mumbled, vaguely startled by the rawness of his voice.

“... Dean?”

Dean closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Cas.

“Um, yeah? Cas?” He was having difficulty stringing words together.

“I'm sorry to bother you, but I need to... tell you something.”

Cas paused for a moment. Dean could hear him breathing on the other end of the line. When he didn't continue, Dean snapped.

“Yeah, what is it?”

“The angel... isn't... it isn't him. He lied. Ezekiel is dead.”

Dean's heart sank. He brought a hand to his eyes as Castiel continued.

“I think you and Sam could be in danger. I just wanted to... warn you...”

Dean rubbed furiously at the moisture gathering in his eyes. When he removed his hand, Kevin's lifeless body was still there, lain motionless before him. A sob burst forth from his throat.

“Dean?” Castiel grunted, panic rising in his voice. “What's wrong?”

Dean's breath was coming short. He tried to speak, unsuccessfuly, before he found the words to tell him. “He - “ he exhaled, his eyes filling with tears. “He got Kevin.”

“The prophet?”

“Yes, the prophet, Kevin! Kevin's dead...” Dean heard himself trail off and tried to bite back his tears.

“Where's Sam?”

Dean couldn't reply.

“Dean. Where's Sam?”

“Gone.” Dean gasped, “With Ezekiel, gone... Sammy's gone...”

Dean felt himself dissolve into a panic. He clenched his eyes shut, trying to control himself.

“Dean...” Castiel's voice was soft and unsure. “Oh... oh my. I wish there was something - “ the former angel gasped an inhale, his voice catching as he caught his breath, “- I could do.”

Dean shook himself furiously, willing himself to snap out of this panic. “Cas, where are you, man? I-I need you. Can you get here?” Castiel didn't reply, but Dean could hear him breathing. There was a rattle in his breath, a wheeze in his voice. His breath sounded shallow and pained, as though Castiel couldn't fill his lungs enough. Dean's stomach sank, slowly, as the seconds ticked by. “... Cas?”

“Dean, I... made a mistake...” the former angel trailed off, and for the first time Dean was able to process how wrecked he sounded. “I think I'm in trouble... here.”

“Well, what – what – what happened?” Dean stuttered. “Cas! R'you ok?”

“I'm not... It doesn't matter...” The former angel was slurring his speech. It took him a long time to form each word. “You shouldn't... um... don't worry, Dean...”

“Cas...” Dean's mind was racing again. Sam had gone, the angel he'd trusted had frikkin' murdered Kevin, and now something was seriously wrong with Cas. Christ. “Cas, look, where the hell are you? You tell me what happened, goddamnit, you hear me?”

Castiel was silent on the other end. Dean could hear his breath still coming shallow.

“Angels,” he spat, finally, “Found me – Hurt – Escaped, but...” he winced and continued, “... I'm injured. God, I...” he trailed off and drew a deep breath into the phone. “I don't know... what to do, Dean.”

“Crap,” Dean mumbled, “Well, Christ. How bad's it? Do you need a - -” his heart caught in his throat on the word 'hospital'. This was too much.

“I think I'm fine, Dean, I'm just feeling... drowsy. And in pain, I – everything hurts.” Talking seemed to make it worse for Cas – Dean could hear the struggle in his voice to keep the pain from taking over. “They're prob'ly looking for me, Dean, I don't know... how long I...”

As he spoke, Dean's breathing evened out. His vision cleared. Kevin was dead, Sammy was gone, but Castiel was there. He needed Dean. Dean needed him. Dean lowered his voice as he spoke into the phone. “Cas, you listen to me: you tell me where you are – you stay there, out of sight – you call an ambulance if it gets any worse, and goddamnit, you wait for me.”

He heard the angel whimper in reply. He took a deep breath, pushing himself onto his feet. He felt the blood rush to his legs as he stood. “Cas? Stay put. I'll be right there.”


- - - - - - -

 

Castiel heaved a sigh of relief when he heard the Impala's approach. He had lost track of how long he'd been waiting for Dean – probably due to the fact that he kept losing consciousness. He was finding it difficult to remain vigilant. His head pounded, his stomach ached, and the cuts on his head and torso stung painfully. It was too easy to give into the warm, enveloping darkness that his wooziness beckoned.

He heard the car door slam, and the crunch of Dean's footsteps as he approached. Castiel struggled to stand up, but he was clumsy and unbalanced. His body wouldn't obey his command, and he slid to the ground with a thud.

“Cas?” Dean called softly. His voice was thick with worry and grief.

“I'm here,” he croaked in reply, surprised that he sounded just as terrible as Dean did.

Dean took one look at him and sighed heavily. “Jesus Christ.” He took Castiel's arm and helped him to his feet. He grunted at the movement and tried to steady himself as Dean led him to the car. When he started to sway, dizzy, Dean put an arm around his waist and let him lean on his shoulder. Cas put out a hand to steady himself, clasping onto Dean's upper arm.

When they were both settled in the cab of the Impala, Dean peeled out of there, driving smoothly to avoid jostling Castiel's wounds. He wasn't talking. He stared straight ahead, his eyes rimmed red, his mouth pressed closed in a tight frown. He looked ashen, and he gripped the steering wheel tightly. Castiel wetted his lips to speak.

“Dean... are you okay?”

Dean shook is head, ran a hand over his face, and inhaled quickly. He didn't reply.

“Dean?”

“'M fine.”

“Okay.”

Dean didn't look at him. They drove in silence for twenty minutes, long enough to get out of that town and deep into the next county. At some point, Dean pulled off the road and into a motel parking lot. He parked the Impala and climbed out, slamming the door behind him. He returned with the keys to a musty motel room, into which he ushered Castiel quickly and carefully. He deposited Castiel onto the bed and tossed him the complimentary pack of nuts.

“Here. Could probably use it.”

Castiel regarded the package dubioiusly, then peeled it open and began to eat. He watched as Dean bustled around the room, checking the security of the windows and doors, drawing the curtains and warding the place with sigils. His hands were shakier than usual, his movements more erratic.

“Dean?”

“Uh... yeah?”

“You look terrible.”

He paused. “Yeah, you don't look so good yourself.” Then Dean was there, running a hand over Castiel's scalp, checking for wounds. He frowned and patted his shoulder, pulling at his ruined shirt collar.

“Take this off. Gotta clean you up.”

Then Dean was gone, out to the Impala to fetch his supplies. Castiel chewed the last of the peanuts thoughtfully, welcoming the feeling of strength and sustinence to his body, and began to pull off his jacket.

His wounds pulled and stung when he stretched them. He gritted his teeth and steeled himself against the discomfort. He unbuttoned his cuffs and moved to the shirt. When he tried to pull off the dress shirt, it stuck to his still-drying wounds. He winced, emitting an unexpected whimper of pain as he tried to remove the shirt. Then Dean was back, again, helping him to slowly peel away the fabric.

Castiel shuddered violently when they'd finished, and Dean grunted “Sorry” before tossing the ruined shirt in the trash. Cas saw that his eyes were red again, and he turned away, grumbling about the med kit.

“Dean?”

There was no reply. Dean removed an old cotton shirt from the rag pile, then pulled a bottle of antiseptic from the medical bag.

“Dean.”

“This'll sting.”

He soaked the cotton in the antiseptic and dabbed at one of Castiel's smaller wounds. The liquid was cool, but the wound was like fire, radiating heat and pain in an echo much worse than the initial cut. Cas inhaled sharply, shocked by the sensation, and watched as Dean affixed a pair of butterfly bandages to the cut. Then Dean pressed the cotton to another wound, a long, stinging cut down his chest.

Castiel gritted his teeth and whimpered. The sound was louder than he'd intended, and he closed his eyes sheepishly and murmured, “Ouch.”

“Sorry.”

“No, Dean, I'm fine – I'm sorry.”

They disinfected the rest of his wounds in awkward silence, punctuated by his quickening breath and stifled groans. When Dean finally tossed out the last scrap of cotton, Castiel closed his eyes and sighed in relief. Dean returned with a glass of water, which he accepted gratfully as the hunter fetched a needle & thread.

“Need stitches,” he murmured, referring to the longer and deeper cuts along Castiel's chest and jaw. Castiel nodded solemnly, steeling himself for more pain. Dean worked quickly and carefully, with skilled, experienced hands. Castiel felt himself relax a little under his touch – the worst, he hoped, was over, and his thoughts now turned to the problems they faced.

“It's a shame about the Prophet.”

Dean's hands clenched and recoiled, “Would you quit calling him that? His name is Kevin.” Castiel winced as Dean pulled one of his stitches too tight. He tensed his body against the pain, and Dean himself winced in empathy before starting the next one. He continued in silence.

“What happened?”

“What do you think?”

Cas pursed his lips. He was in dangerous territory, and Dean had a needle. He tried to think of something to say.

“Dean... I'm sorry.”

“Yeah, for what?”

Castiel frowned. “I got the angels cast from heaven. This should not have happened. I should have been there to comfort you, to heal Sam... All that's happened... it's all my fault.”

“No, Cas, you do not - “ Dean took a deep breath, trying to control his anger, “Don't you put this on you, you hear what I'm saying? This one, this is all on me.”

Castiel shook his head, wincing as he pulled too far in his stitches. His could feel his expression shift as his heart sank with concern and pity.

“Don't put this on yourself either, Dean. Please... please don't.”

Dean's hands were shaking. Castiel went to take one – just to steady him, but as he did, the hunter pulled away. He stood up and ran his hands through his hair, taking deep, audible breaths to calm himself.

“I really screwed up, Cas.” He murmured in a broken voice. “I don't know what to do. Goddamnit!” Dean slammed his fist into the table and bowed his head. Cas could hear the hitch in his breath, see his shaking shoulders. He was up and shuffling across the room before he could stop himself. He gripped the hunter's shoulder tightly.

“Dean - “

“God, Cas...” There were tears running down his cheeks. “I've lost Kevin, I've lost Sammy, I've lost everyone... I've lost everyone...”

Castiel didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything, just let Dean collapse into his arms, shuddering and desperate. Castiel held Dean's shoulder with one hand and cradled the back of his neck with the other. The former angel wished he had his wings – they would have been quite a comfort to them both in a moment like this. The thought sent a wave of grief coursing through him, and Castiel took a deep, shaky breath. The movement jostled one of his bruised ribs, and he winced and recoiled slightly. The shuffling seemed to unsettle Dean, who wrapped his arms tightly around Castiel's torso.

“Ow.” Castiel grunted, trying to return the affection through his discomfort. He patted Dean on the back awkwardly. Then, again, more insistant: “Ow.”

“Oh, sorry...”

“It's ok.”

“God, I'm sorry, Cas...”

“It's fine, I'm fine, I'm fine...” He insisted. Dean had loosened his grip somewhat, but Castiel didn't. He held on for several more moments, until Dean's breathing had evened out, his shudders slowed. Then the hunter pulled away, his face tear-streaked, his eyes red. He winced a smile and tried to laugh.

“Um, wow, Cas...” he stuttered awkwardly. He blew his air out. “I'm, uh... yeah. Thanks, man.”

Cas didn't reply, just clasped Dean gently on the shoulder and looked into his eyes. He nodded, understanding what words could not intone.

Dean sniffed and wiped away the last of his tears. “Yeah, let's get you stitched up, huh?”

Castiel smiled, grunting an affirmation, and allowed Dean to guide him back to his spot on the bed. The two of them were quiet as he finished stitching up the wounds.