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From the Ashes

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 “Where the hell are we, Cas?” Dean asked, walking into the woods carefully, “one moment, we were in the hotel, the next we are in the damn woods?”  

“I don’t know, without my grace, I can’t sense these things immediately...”  

As Castiel eyed his surroundings, he took in the crisp air. Something was different. Everything felt cleaner, younger. Touching the nearest tree, he opened himself to its life force. Sure enough, a rush of youthful energy came over him. He concentrated further, opening himself up to the layers of time that existed, one upon the other, all at once. Seeing it all before his mind’s eye, he was able to determine when and where they were. 

“Oh,” he breathed in disbelief. 

“Did the tree try to make a move on you?” Dean snickered.  

“No, I-” Cas swallowed, he wasn’t sure how to explain how he tapped into the psychic abilities that being a fallen angel afforded him, “We are where the hotel was.” 

“What? You mean we fricken time traveled?”  

“More or less, yes.”  

“What is that supposed to mean? How do we get back to the future?”  

“We are in the future.”  

Dean raised his arms and looked around him, “From where I'm standing, this looks like the past, Cas. There is nothing here. There was a city around the hotel that we were in...” 

“I know, it's not that there is nothing here yet. It's that there is nothing left."

“So, what happened?”  

Feeling the dirt next; Visions of fire, of monsters attacking innocents, of war overwhelmed him, “There was a war. The world was engulfed by fire. It all...” 

Looking up at Dean, Cas shuddered, “It all ended. It’s gone, Dean. Everyone, everything.”  

Castiel smoothed his hand over the dirt, "I can't believe she survived. The Earth, she outlived all races of human, angel, and creature alike.” 

“Damn,” Dean huffed, sitting next to Cas on the ground, “I guess we're the last two people on earth?”  

“I guess so,” Castiel said, as their eyes met, Cas felt a jolt of excitement. He knew he shouldn’t be excited about this, but this meant that there were no more rules, no one to tell them to stay in line, “If its all gone...” 

“Then they’re all dead. Sammy is dead,” Dean said slowly.  

“I’m sorry, Dean.”  

Dean looked up at the night sky and balled his hands into fists. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes. As he turned to Castiel, he opened his eyes and smiled- it was a sweet, sad smile.

“Don’t be. We’ll figure out a way back. I’m just glad you’re here,” his voice was thick as his eyes raked over Cas.  Taking in a deep breath, Dean got up, "I’m going to get firewood. Maybe there will be an old, dry tree that we can burn. I still have my lighter on me." 

“Good. I'll look for food, while it's still light out."

Cas stares at Dean as he disappears into the dense woods. Raising himself to his knees, he prays, "Father, I know you're there! If you weren't alive, there would be nothing here. Don't you hide from me! Why did you bring us here?"

Nothing but the rustling of branches in the wind answers the angel's question.