It’s a normal, quiet Thursday morning when Castiel gets the call, and the peacefulness he was for once feeling is ripped away from him mercilessly.
It’s a quiet Thursday morning, and Cas is standing outside the bunker, watching life around him flourish and thinking about how nice it would be to turn this space into a garden.
(One day. Maybe. When this – when everything – is over.)
It’s right at that moment – right at the moment when a butterfly, its wings tinted green, has finally found the courage to flutter closer to Castiel – that his phone rings, startling Cas and the butterfly, and the angel watches it fly away in a flurry of bright colours.
Whatever Sam is saying doesn’t make any sense.
The world is spinning.
Castiel doesn’t know when it started doing that, but one moment he’s standing, the next his knees hit the dirt below him, the hand not holding the phone desperately trying to hold him up, stop him from crashing face first into the ground, keep him steady.
Cas doesn’t remember reaching his hand out.
Sam is still talking, something almost like a child’s terror tinging his voice, his words, and Castiel doesn’t know how to make it stop.
Sam is demanding an answer now, calling out Cas’s name once, twice, three times, asking if he’s alright.
Cas is not alright.
Dean is going to die.
“So, then… This is goodbye?”
Cas meant for his words to be cutting, and they are.
Dean swallows, hard, his eyes locked on Cas’s, unwavering.
Cas knows exactly what Dean is trying to convey, but he won’t give in – the way he usually does when Dean looks at him like that.
(“No, Cas. I don’t want to say goodbye, not yet. I’m not ready.”)
He can’t, won’t, let Dean do this.
He won’t listen to this.
Cas moves in a flash, barely noticing, but suddenly Dean is being slammed into the wall and Cas is gripping the lapels of his jacket, knuckles turning white and tears springing to his eyes as he stares Dean down.
Dean’s expression has changed, sorrow taking over, and Cas doesn’t want to see this, doesn’t want to have to deal with this.
The pain in Dean’s eyes, he understands too well.
(He thinks, bitterly, if Dean goes through with his plan, the Empty will never claim him.)
(The thought doesn’t comfort him.)
“I can’t let you do this, Dean.”
(I rebelled for this!?)
Dean is still quiet, but he never drops Cas’s eyes, never looks away.
(I gave everything for you, and this is what you give me?)
“There has got to be another way, and we are going to find it. Together.”
(You, me and Sam. We’re just better together.)
Cas pushes Dean back into the wall, desperate now to hold on and never let go, desperate to find a way to stop Dean’s pain, take it onto himself the way he did for Sam, anything to stop his suffering.
Whatever Cas was going to say is lost as Dean reaches for him and slams their mouths together.
Cas stops breathing.
As their mouths move together, Dean spins them around and pins Cas against the wall, careless about the fact they’re in public, Cas is still wearing a doctor’s outfit and they are going to blow their cover.
Dean kisses Cas in a way he’s never been kissed before, despair, fear and love pouring through, his hands gripping his hair, pushing his head back to give himself more access to his mouth, tongue slipping through.
Cas knows Dean needs to breathe, but he refuses to be the one to break the kiss.
Everything he’s ever wanted, everything that in any other circumstance would have made him so happy the Empty would have come for him in a heartbeat, is now only filling him with more pain than he ever thought possible. He clings to Dean, though, fiercely, his hands still on the hunter’s lapel, tears the likes of which he has never shed in his life dampening his cheeks, his heartbeat matching the crazy rhythm of Dean’s.
When Dean finally pulls back, his eyes are red. He stays close, pressing his forehead to Cas’s, closing his eyes and breathing the angel in.
“I love you,” Dean opens his eyes, whispers into the space between them, “I love you.”
Cas’s heart stops, and he’s certain the Empty has finally come for him, but more tears are rolling down his cheeks now, and he doesn’t think he’s ever felt less happy than he feels now.
“No…” he whimpers, “you can’t do this to me…”.
Dean finally looks away at that, a flash of pain crossing his face once more, and Cas knows he sounds pathetic, but he begs.
“Dean, please.” Cas can see Dean bracing himself, ready to pull back, to close off again. So, he does the only thing he can think of, and reels the hunter back in for another kiss.
Dean goes willingly, too easily, and Cas allows himself to think he might be breaking through Dean’s resolve.
The kisses grow heated, then, as Cas desperately tries to give Dean a reason to stay, a reason to keep fighting, anything to stop this ridiculous plan he isn’t dumb enough to believe will work.
Just as Cas is opening his mouth to let Dean’s tongue in again, Dean pulls back, panting, trying to put as much distance between them as he can without letting go of Cas’s face.
“Cas, I’m sorry.” If Dean weren’t holding him up, Cas is sure he would have collapsed to the ground again.
“This is why I didn’t want to tell you.” The words hurt, but Cas understands, feels like a hypocrite, almost breaks down and tells Dean all about his deal with the Empty.
There’s no time.
He doesn’t want to hurt Dean the way Dean is hurting him.
“I wish I had told you sooner,” is the last thing Dean tells him before he turns to head back to Donatello’s room, “I’m sorry.”
Cas stays where he is, catching his breath, until his mind processes everything that just happened and he breaks, the pain in his hand when he almost punches a hole in the wall barely registering as more tears blur his vision, obscuring the spot Dean just walked away from .
By the time they get back to the bunker it’s way past midnight and everyone is exhausted.
Cas can tell Sam is feeling lighter, as if he actually believes he’s convinced Dean to postpone his plan indefinitely while they work on finding another solution.
Cas isn’t as hopeful.
As Sam and Dean drag themselves to the showers, Cas finds himself hiding in the Dean Cave, looking for the comfort only something so familiar and homely can give him.
(His first option would have been Dean’s arms, but he doesn’t know how to ask.)
(And, for once, he’s not the one that has to ask.)
It’s only twenty minutes later when Dean finds him in the Cave, comes up behind him, caresses his shoulder.
“You coming, Cas?”
What else can he say?
When they get to the bedrooms, Dean ushers Cas through the door of his room, then locks it behind himself. His eyes look glassy, lifeless, and Cas’s heart breaks, and he wishes, once more, that he had some sort of solution to propose to Dean.
Before he can lose himself too deeply in thought, Dean reaches for him, pulling him by the hand until Cas is sitting next to him on the bed.
Dean is moving on autopilot, reaching down to untie his boots without no real drive to do so, so Cas slips off the bed, kneels in front of Dean, and does it for him.
There is nothing that could possibly hurt him more right now than seeing Dean so empty; this man that he has always believed to be more than strong, this man that never gave up, no matter what, is now reduced to almost an empty shell, the battle in his mind draining him of everything he has always been.
(Sam mentioned once, something about Dean’s behaviour when Cas was dead, something about Dean’s eyes looking as dead as Cas was, but the angel thinks he’ll never know the full extent of what went on when he was gone, and he can’t help but feel the burden of it, blaming himself, as always.)
Once Cas has got Dean out of his shoes, jeans and flannel, he lies down with him, moving up the bed until they’re lying comfortably side by side.
As soon as Cas opens his arms, Dean is moving towards him, placing a soft kiss on Cas’s throat as he settles there, his hands gentle on Cas’s chest. Cas wraps his arms around Dean, kisses his forehead, lets out a sigh.
They lie there for what feels like hours, no words spoken between them, the only sounds in the room their soft breathing, and occasionally barely-there kisses pressed into skin.
Cas can’t help but wonder, imagines finding himself in this exact position, arms wrapped protectively around the man he loves, without the enormous burdens they both bear: no more wars, Heaven, Hell or any sort of deadly deal to drag them away from each other.
He can’t picture it.
It’s not their lives.
It has never been their lives.
(Oh, how he wishes it could have been the type of life Dean lived, even if it would have meant them never meeting each other.)
Just as Cas is starting to think about what his life would have been like without the Righteous Man, as if summoned by Cas’s dark thoughts, Dean reaches a hand up to Cas’s cheek and angles his head downward, stretching up at the same time to meet him halfway, pressing their mouths together, swallowing any and all dark thoughts taking over Cas’s mind in a soft moan.
“Whatever you’re thinking about, stop it.”
Cas can’t help but obey.
As they settle more comfortably against each other, as their kisses become more passionate, as fire like he’s never felt before starts building in his gut, Cas lets go of the weight on his shoulders, at least for the night, and loses himself in Dean’s mouth and the warm weight of the hunter’s body pressed against his.
Everything else can wait until morning.