They had all the Horsemans' rings, safely stored in one of Bobby's many lock boxes. Dean knew how to use them. He hadn't killed Crowley yet because he could still be useful, because Bobby could walk again, because he kept dangling hope in front of Dean's nose every time they spoke. They had something resembling a plan, not that Dean had to like it, and all the pieces were set. Almost.
One piece was still missing.
Dean tried Cas's phone again, though he knew there wasn't much point. Straight to voicemail each time. At least he got to hear Cas's confused voice when he dialed. The man had such a difficult time with technology.
To Dean's surprise, he heard a dial tone. He stayed on the line, listening to that sound play over and over. It rang and rang and rang and Dean sat there, paralyzed, his heart thumping out of his chest. He was half convinced he saw it burst out into Bobby yard, a far cry from the garage his body was still in.
"H-hello?" The voice on the other end was feminine and hesitant, her greeting a whisper.
"And who the hell are you?"
Dean hadn't meant to sound so angry, so vicious. Someone he did not recognize had Cas's phone. There were a lot of people (or not-people) eager to get their hands on him if he were still alive and Dean knew Cas had more enemies than friends.
"Excuse me but this phone was broken until about thirty seconds ago. I think I'm the one who can demand answers. Who the hell are you?"
Dean clenched his free hand into a fist. He opened it upon release of a deep breath. "I'm Dean."
"Yeah," she said, still grumpy from his earlier greeting. "That was the name on the display."
"Do you have a name?"
There was an excruciating pause on the other end before she said, "Doctor Elizabeth Brown. Pleased to make your acquaintance Mister…?"
A doctor, then. Hopefully not a demon doctor. He was about to find out.
"Winchester," he said.
"Alright Mister Winchester. Clearly we got off on the wrong foot here. Why are you calling this number?"
She didn't seem like a demon. A demon would have taunted him at this point, made demands, and alluded to an obvious trap. No, she sounded like a real professional. Now he had to hope she didn't look up his name. He had a bit of a rap sheet. Not all of it was his fault, stop judging.
At this point, Dean figured honesty was the best policy. Maybe with some slight editing.
"I'm looking for Cas."
"Cas?" She really wasn't a demon if she didn't know the name. "Who's Cas?"
Well, that was the million dollar question, wasn't it? Dean had never given Cas a title. Boyfriend sounded too high school, partner sounded strange because he called his brother that on the job, and husband wasn't possible nor something he really cared about. They used the brother cover plenty of times before in some less than welcoming places but Dean no longer wanted to hide it from the world. He loved Cas and he sometimes wanted to shout it at random passerby on the street. Not that he would. That'd be weird. He settled on reminding his brother once in a while. Sam rolled his eyes every time, but he smiled big.
There was one thing, however, he knew for sure.
"Cas is family," Dean said.
"Okay," she said. "And what does this Cas look like?"
An odd set of questions but Dean had to work with her if he was going to figure out what was going on.
"Uh, he's like, six feet or so. Dark hair. Dude's full on covered with tattoos. Got wings on his back-- little on the nose but he thinks it's hilarious. Even after he got sober." The woman made a noise of recognition, but she didn't say anything, so Dean, of course, continued to ramble, "he's usually has the beginning of a beard because I'm pretty sure he has something against razors and, uh, he cannot use a computer to save his life. It's adorable. I'm still kinda shocked he can use a phone. He is a giant dork with a smile that'll make your heart melt. Oh and, right, he's got blue eyes and a way of staring at you that makes you pretty sure he can see your soul and I would really like it if you'd say something so I can shut up now."
The woman on the other end sniffled. "Sorry, I had to be sure." Her voice was pinched, as if she caught a head cold in the last five minutes.
"Sure of what?"
"That you knew him." Dean heard a loud shout on the other end of the line. "You really put your heart out there, huh?"
"Didn't used to."
"And I bet we have our blue eyes to thank for that."
"So he's there?"
"He's here." There was another shout on her end followed by the squeaking wheels of some kind of cart. "But…"
Dean knew it was going to happen. It was a very different thing to have someone confirm it. The doctor spoke. He listened. He knew it would be even worse to see in person but he had to make the drive, had to see for himself. He had to see how much of Cas was left.
Afterwords, he was going to summon Crowley, dump him in a vat of holy water, and calmly ask if he knew about Cas the whole time. Then he would take that lovely demon knife and use it. Slowly. Every single comment that bastard made in Chicago as they looked for Death came running back into his mind. The fucker knew.
First, he had to make the day long drive to Louisiana. God help any cops who tried to pull him over.
While the staff did their best, the man knew they would need the bed for someone actually sick soon. The man did not remember who he was but, in the physical sense, he was completely healthy. The administration clerk, Ahmed, managed to give him an extra day to prepare. Three of the nurses-- Shantelle, Lynn, and Leslie-- provided him with enough information to keep him off the street for the next few days. He refused the money, but they managed to slip a few bills into the notebook they gave him. Now he had to figure out how to give them back.
The man lay on his bed and stared out the window. He wore his original clothes and he picked at a splotch of white paint on his knee. Perhaps he was a construction worker. The paint and the sturdy work boots he owned suggested it to him. He adjusted the collar of his new coat. He had tried to refuse it too, but Brenda had insisted he take it since her son did not need it anymore. She had apologized for the beige colour, which the man did not understand. He found it appealing. A large amount of hospital workers came by to wish him well throughout the day. They all looked pleased when he greeted them by name. It seemed important, having a name.
The last person of the day did not have a name. Or, at least, the man had forgotten it. Liz had told him that a person would come by to see him, but he had never let himself hope.
Shadows moved under the closed door as footsteps sounded from the hallway. The man stayed silent and turned to watch the sunset through the window. Blue and purple and a slight tinge of pink hovered over the horizon and the man felt the urge to capture it in a painting.
A pang in his heart caused him to falter. He did not know where it came from but the sensation became stronger, louder, as the door swung open. The door squeaked as it moved, the action taking an eternity. The man continued to stare out the window, even as the new arrival walked in the room. Neither person said anything.
The man tucked his feet under him and sat crossed legged in the middle of his bed, facing the new arrival. The longing sensation gained more force, then burst as soon as the man met green eyes.
A fascinating colour, that green, a green that reminded him of the tattoos on his arms. The owner of the colour started back at him, not breaking eye contact as he moved forward. Each step closer made the man's heart beat faster, but not from fear.
"Hello,' the man said.
The smile on the other man's lips was a beautiful sight, even if it was tinged with sadness. "Hey, you."
"I'm told you know me."
A small laugh. It was nice. "Yeah, you could say that."
The man watched as his visitor moved a chair to sit directly across from the bed. He sat, crossed his legs, uncrossed them, folded his hands together and pulled them apart. He opened his mouth a few times, took a breath as if he would speak, but said nothing. He sunk into his chair.
"Are you alright?" The man asked.
"Right as rain." He sat up in his chair. "Long drive. That's all."
"'Right as rain,'" the man echoed. He cocked his head to the side. "How is rain right?"
It seemed like an innocent enough question. Green eyes filled with water and the other man stood. He took the last step towards the bed and held out his arms.
The man leaned into the embrace. It was warm and comfortable and right. He breathed and let the scent of leather calm his heart.
"Oh, Cas. I'm sorry," the green eyed man mumbled. "I am so fucking sorry."
"Cas." The man wrapped his arms around the green eyed man's shoulders, smooth leather under his palms. "Cas is me?"
"Yeah. Cas is definitely you."