"Hey, Dean. Is this a bad time?"
I could only stare at him. It had been years, but here he was. How? How was he standing here like nothing happened between us? Like nothing happened to him.
Cas looked past me then down at his feet. "I shouldn't have come here. I'm sorry. I- I'll just go-"
I grabbed his wrist to stop him. "No, don't go anywhere. Please, just-" I turned when I heard the floorboards creak behind me.
"Dean, is everything okay? Who's- Is that... Castiel?"
"I thought he was dead. You told me he died."
Cas tried to pull his wrist from my hand. I turned back to him, begging him to wait. "Dean, I shouldn't be here. I've already made a mess of your life again. I'm just going to go home."
"No. Please, just stay long enough for us to talk. After that... If you want to leave, you can. I won't try to stop you."
Lisa tapped her foot on the tile. "Dean, could we talk?"
"I'll meet you in the bedroom, Lis. Give me one minute." She sighed, but she nodded and walked down the hall to our room.
I pulled Cas into a hug, surprising him enough for him to let out a squeak. He wrapped his arms around me quick enough, though. "I missed you so much, Cas," I told him, mumbling into his shoulder. His sweater smelled like cologne, but a layer of chemicals hid just under it, like he tried to cover up the smell of a hospital with the fragrance. "I never thought I'd see you again. Why are you here? How are you here?"
Cas backed away from me. "That's a long story."
"Then you can tell me in the morning. We have a guest room down that hall. Stay here, then you can tell me what happened tomorrow."
"I don't think your girlfriend would like that."
"Lisa will be fine. Please stay here." I took his hands, and he hesitated.
Then, he sighed with a shy smile. "Alright. One night."
"Let me show you to your room, then." When he settled in, I started to leave, only being stopped by Cas at the door.
"Thank you, Dean. I hope I haven't just ruined things for you and Lisa."
"You haven't ruined anything." There was so much I wanted to tell him, but I couldn't bring myself to be honest with him. "Goodnight, Cas," was all I said.
I had a smile toying at my lips, but the look on Lisa's face wiped it away the moment I saw her. She was waiting for me, standing with her arms crossed at the end of the bed. She scowled at me, obviously pissed off. "What the fuck, Dean?"
"No, don't even try that. You told me he was dead. You told me he committed suicide, but he was just at our front door. So, did you lie to me so I would feel sorry for you? Did you just want to make me feel like a bitch? What was it, Dean? Why lie about something like this?"
"I didn't, Lisa." I tried to take her hands, but she pulled them away.
"You didn't lie that your boyfriend was dead? The same boyfriend who I just saw?"
I sat down and waited for Lisa to do the same. She didn't. She continued to stand, looking down at me with her arms still folded over her chest. I sighed at how stubborn she was being, but I kept talking. "Cas did commit suicide. At least, I thought he did. He tried but was saved by a really terrible man who..." I trailed off, hoping that would be enough of an explanation.
"Keep going. I want to know what you've been hiding."
I looked down at my hands and the scars wrapping around my left wrist. "Cas was being controlled. He was brainwashed, in a way. That man was the same one who killed my mother, and he was destroying Cas's mind. Cas couldn't remember anything, and he told me to move on. I just wanted to do that. Lisa, I just wanted to move on from everything. That's why I never told you."
"That's such bullshit." I looked up to find Lisa practically fuming. "How do you expect me to believe that? What, your ex faked his own death before going nuts, and you've never mentioned this before?"
"You know I was kidnapped, Lis. We both know that it was all over the news. You talked to Mom when I was gone, and she told you that man who had me was the man who killed my mother. Cas was the one who actually took me. He was following orders, and he did some bad stuff. But he broke from Azazel's control and got us both home. Cas has been in the hospital for three years, and I didn't think he'd be getting out. The boy I loved was gone, so I didn't feel like it was necessary to correct you when you said Cas was dead." I reached out to her, this time being able to hold her hand in mine. "Do you believe me?"
She didn't answer my question but asked one of her own. "What are those scars from, really? You've only ever given me dodgy answers."
"They were from the vines I was imprisoned with when I was kidnapped. I had them all over my body, but I only kept the ones on my wrist because I needed to remember that everything really happened. When I woke up screaming, I ran my fingers over the scars so I remembered where I was and that I was safe."
I pulled it from under my shirt. "It was a Christmas present from Cas. I gave him his necklace back when he was in the hospital, hoping it would help him remember me. It's the day we started dating."
Lisa sat down with a huff. "I thought it was the day he died, and it was some kind of memorial to him. That's why I never said anything about it. You've really been wearing your anniversary with your ex around your neck for three years?" Her eyes sparkled dangerously in the dull lamplight. Her voice had risen to a point where she was practically yelling at me.
I nodded. "I just-"
"No, save your excuses for some other time. I don't want to talk about this anymore tonight." Another sigh. "Why don't you sleep in the guest room?"
"Cas is taking the guest room tonight."
Lisa scoffed. "You invited him- Whatever. You can sleep on the couch then. I don't give a damn anymore. We'll finish this later."
But I didn't want to save it for later. I didn't want that anger to boil in my girlfriend until we couldn't get back to the way we were. "Lisa, please."
"Just go, Dean." She crossed to her side of the bed and pulled the blankets over her body as she turned her back to me. "I really don't want to talk to you right now."
She didn't answer, but what did I expect?
When I woke up, the whole house was silent. My back hurt from sleeping on the couch, and it felt nice to stand and stretch; but the eerie quiet put me on edge, so I couldn't help but be put off by the succession of pops down my spine. I walked into the bedroom, hoping to find Lisa, yet only seeing the empty, made bed. She had an early class today for psychology; I thought I could catch her before she left. It was almost nine, which explained why she was already gone. With a sigh, I went in the other direction to talk to Cas before I had to leave at noon for my own class.
The door was shut, but I could hear him talking. It sounded like he was telling Gabe about what happened last night, but I may have misheard a few things. I knocked lightly on the door.
"Cas, are you up?" That was a stupid question, I yelled to myself. He probably knows I can hear him.
"Yeah, just give me a second." He muttered a few more things into his phone before opening the door with an awkward smile. "Good morning." He shifted his weight between his feet before settling on his right leg and the right words. "Is everything okay with Lisa? I, uh, couldn't help but hear you guys last night."
"We'll be fine, don't worry." I gestured for him to follow me. "I'm going to make us breakfast. You can tell me your story while I cook, okay?"
It took him a little while to get comfortable talking about what happened, even though he came specifically to tell me that. He didn't stop for a long time once he did get comfortable, though.
"So, it took almost a week to fix the physical damage from that night," he didn't go any further. I knew what he meant, but it felt like he was afraid to talk about Azazel or what happened. "What the doctors couldn't fix as easily was my brain trauma. There was too much physically wrong when I woke up, and it took the best healers and doctors months to reverse everything he did to me. But they could only fix the physical problems, not the, uh, the inside of my mind." I listened to Cas talk for about twenty minutes before I realized why he sounded off. He kept repeating himself and getting lost, like he was forgetting words and rewriting sentences as he went. I guess he wasn't one hundred percent back to normal. "I spent six weeks in the hospital while they tried to get my memory back."
"Did it work?"
"Not at first." Cas wouldn't look away from his hands. "It took a few months before my first memory came back, and that happened accidentally. They said it was because of a... a reaction to-"
"A stimulus?" I offered.
He looked embarrassed. "Yeah. A stimulus."
I steered him away from his obvious discomfort as quickly as I could. "What did you remember?" I asked as I slid his plate towards him and sat in the seat next to his.
When his eyes lifted to me, I froze. If there was one thing that hadn't changed, it was his eyes. Deep blue that I could lose myself in, laugh lines that looked like they hadn't been used in years, long dark lashes that curled in the way Lisa always fought to maintain. "You."
My voice caught in my throat. "Me?" His first memory was me?
Cas nodded, holding my gaze. "I couldn't remember much, but there was, uh, just a flash of something there. You were sitting by these purple flowers, laughing about something I said. And I remembered how much I loved you. Every emotion from that moment..."
"You remembered them too?"
"I could feel them. It was like I was reliving that day. And I'd never been happier, at least that I could remember." He smiled at me, like it was normal for him to joke about his condition. "After all those months of vague memories that were gone as quick as they came, I finally had something tangible to hold onto. I had this tether to who I was before everything. And, and it was you, Dean."
"You were better after that?"
Cas looked down, scratching behind his ear. "Not exactly. They changed my treatment probably a dozen times. I had two surgeries. No, three. An aneurism. More mornings than I can count where I couldn't remember anything. I was depressed for... a long time."
"My God, Cas." I didn't know what to say beyond that.
"There were some days that were really, really hard. Some days where I wanted to give up and stop fighting. But every time I felt like calling it quits, I saw you. You were what I was fighting for, because I could still feel how much I loved you. I wanted that back, even though I told you to forget about me. Even though I watched you walk away, I had to hope that I could get you back. I love you, Dean. And I don't know if that even matters now that you're with Lisa."
This was what I wanted. For years, I just wanted Cas back. I wanted him to stand in front of me, memories intact, saying that he still loved me and wanted to be together again. But Cas was right; I have Lisa now. And I love her. Does that mean I don't love Cas anymore? No, I still do. But should I? Should I only love Lisa and have no feelings for Cas? I need to tell him something. I've been staring at him for too long.
I opened my mouth to say something, anything. Nothing came out, though. Before I could work out a proper sentence, I kissed him. Either one of us could've made that first move, but I didn't register anything before our lips met for the first time in three years. I didn't care who did what after that. It was just how soft his lips were and the way his fingers trailed softly over my hand that I brought to his cheek like he thought I would break or that I wasn't real. All I could think about was how soft his hair was when my hands found their way into his drak bedhead and the noise he made when I deepened the kiss and how his cologne had faded, yet he still smelled like chemicals.
"I still love you," I told him once we eventually separated. Those weren't the words I thought I would tell him, but they were right. I did love him.
"You need to know the rest."
I covered his hand with mine. "I'm sure it can wait until we eat." I was getting hungry, and I wasn't thinking about the words before they tumbled out of my mouth.
"No, this is important." He closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath. "The doctors helped, they fixed me for the most part, but they were very clear that this was all experimental and that I- that my-"
"Your amnesia can come back," I guessed.
"I just needed to tell you how I feel before I didn't have the chance again." He bit his lip, letting it roll between his teeth in the most distracting way. "I didn't want to forget you without telling you how sorry I am for how things ended between us."
"Don't say that." I put my hands to his cheeks. "Don't say that like you're giving up now. You're not dying. Isn't that what you came here to tell me? That you have a chance to live now?"
Cas slowly moved my hands from his face. "I wanted you back, but you have a new life here. You have a girlfriend. I don't know why I expected you to pause your life for me when I told you to keep living." He touched his lips. "And you have a girlfriend, but we just kissed. I really need to go home. I just wanted to tell you that I was okay. And thank you."
Cas kinda shrugged. "For giving me hope." He didn't let me respond before he left me alone in my apartment. By the time the door closed behind him, the tears that had pooled in my eyes started down my face. What am I going to do?