They have to clean up the bodies.
Maggie’s is the hardest. Dean shoves Sam away from her with a sharp look. It’s protective and Sam resists the urge to yell at him. The blame game, the guilt, there’s no point in any of it. It doesn’t stop Sam’s head from spinning though. And Jack, with that little smile on his face because his powers are back is twisting something deep and dark inside him.
They’ll burn the bodies tomorrow, invite in everyone who survived. Bobby, Charlie, and the others. If they’ll even speak to them.
Rowena joins Sam where he’s sitting, her eyes averted. It’s unlike her, waiting for him to get the first word in. He knows what she wants him to ask her.
“Why?” Sam asks, giving. “What could have possessed you to say yes?”
“Aside from an archangel?” Rowena muttered. “What do you think? Fate. You’re the one who kills me, Samuel. I suppose it was a nice thought that this would be the reason why.”
Sam takes this in, looking for some angle to refute it. To challenge her logic. But he knows the calculations you make. He said yes. Cas said yes. Dean said yes. They all had their reasons, and hers were no less valid. There’s no point to the blame game. As always the stakes are high and you only know just how much once the true price is paid.
“You’re scared of him,” Rowena says.
“I’m scared for him.”
“Aye, and both at the same time,” she says. “I suppose I can’t complain. I hardly knew the boy, but he seemed to be one of the good ones.”
“He isn’t gone.”
“You can’t see him, Samuel,” Rowena says softly. “He’s not gone, but there’s not much of him left. Just the building blocks, the power. You should have told me what magic you were messing with.”
It’s as close to an admission as Rowena is going to get. At this point, she may have earned his trust, but that’s something hard to give in the best of circumstances. But this…
“We have to bury them.”
“I know,” Rowena says. “I’m sorry, Sam.”
Jack is trying to be helpful. He is being anything but.
He’s hurt when Cas snaps at him, and that brief flash of pain is enough to set the angel at ease, if only slightly. As long as there are feelings left to hurt, there is a soul left inside. And now Jack no longer needs to use his soul to maintain his body. With his powers restored, his body is in balance once again. The rest of it is safe.
“Cas, can you-“
Cas looks up from his musings to see Dean struggling to lift the body of one of the more muscular hunters. Cas obliges, lifting the man with ease and avoiding the burnt out sockets where his eyes once were.
“How’s the kid?” Dean asks, following Cas to the room they’d set aside for the bodies. Cas doesn’t answer him. “Look, man…”
“He’s powerful,” Cas says. “And his soul is a fraction of what it was. But as long as he doesn’t burn the rest of it, well.”
“He shouldn’t need to.”
“But he may want to some day,” says Cas cryptically. “It’s easier not to feel things. You know that.”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t pick it.”
“You won’t live as long as we will.”
Cas realizes he sounds angry. Why does he sound angry?
“So what, you think I don’t know how it is? Losing people you love and having to go on?”
“Imagine that a thousand times over.”
“I don’t have to Cas. I’ve watched you die more times than I care to count.”
“And yet I’ve never asked you to kill me.”
“Why are we fighting about this?”
Cas stops. He gently lays down the body of the dead man. Then he turns to face Dean.
“I don’t know how to let you go,” he says at last. “And other people keep paying the price, and then you blame yourself for it. It’s my fault. And I am so sorry-“
“It’s not your fault.”
“Don’t interrupt me,” Cas chides, failing not feel a warm fondness when Dean raises his eyebrows in question.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” says Dean. “Self pity’s not a good look on you. Never has been.”
Dean clasps Cas’ shoulder, leading him away from the room full of the dead. They walk in silence back towards the war room, but stop short of entering. Facing away from them, they see Rowena and Sam sitting next to each other, their shoulders brushing, leaning in together. Talking quietly.
Dean glances at Cas and opens his mouth as if he’s about to say something.
“Jack asked me what would happen if you never woke up,” Cas says before Dean can get the words out. “I don’t have an answer to that.”
“You don’t need one now.”
“But I will. Eventually,” says Cas. Cas isn’t sure what makes him to do it, but he kisses Dean on the cheek, a parody of the Gorgon’s toxic ploy. Except the poison Castiel carries inside him isn’t a paralytic, but affection, desire, and unwanted longing. And it isn’t Dean who will be brought low from it.
“What, uh,” Dean stutters out, faltering. “What was that for?”
“I’m glad you’re alive.”
It’s not the answer his friend is looking for.
“No, you can’t just-“
“I can’t just what, Dean?”
Dean’s face hardens. His attention shifts back to Rowena and Sam.
“They’re doomed, you know that right?” Dean says. Castiel nods after a moment. It is a hard thing, to know a close friend is going to kill a valued ally someday and not know why, and it is a constant source of unspoken tension with Rowena. “Yeah, well look at them.”
And Cas does. He is surprised. There is something unguarded in Rowena’s features, a side of her he had never seen before. And Sam, too, through his grief, is allowing her to comfort him, something he doesn’t even particularly let Dean do.
“I take your meaning,” he admits after a moment.
“But I am already dangerously attached to you,” says Cas. “Let’s not make it worse.”
“Alright,” Dean agrees after thirty seconds of torturous silence. “Just remember you started it.”
And with that he went off, likely to his room to recuperate or perhaps just enjoy the silence now that Michael is no longer pounding away inside his head. Cas watches Sam and Rowena a while longer, wondering.
Jack sits in his room, four words echoing through his head. You’re scared of him. It wasn’t fair. None of it was fair. Killing Michael was the right thing to do, the only thing to do. So what if he has his powers back now? Would they begrudge a human cured of blindness?
He’s going to show them, his family. He’s going to show them that he’s still good. That he has always been good.
Jack curls up on his side and watches his snake coil and uncoil inside its new cage. He wonders if he went and boiled an egg if the animal would actually choke on it. He falls asleep still ashamed of the passing thought.