They were about an hour away from the bunker, passing through a small town. It had been a pretty decent afternoon - Dean and Cas took the day to do a necessary supply run (because a certain moose kept drinking all the coffee) and were now on the way back, accompanied by the setting sun and some hard AC/DC tunes.
Sometimes Dean thought it was nice to just get away for a while and pretend to be normal, not having some monster breathing down their necks. Sometimes it was even nicer to do this with Cas. It was pleasant to spend time with the angel when neither of them was in trouble.
Dean took a glance at the angel beside him who was wearing his usual trench coat and stony face; the hunter resolved to change that expression. When the chorus of "Back in Black" started, Dean began singing horribly to the top of his lungs, banging his one hand against the steering wheel. Another look at Cas showed that he was smiling at Dean's antics, which, when their eyes met for a moment, made Dean's stomach do a little flip. He resolutely ignored it (and the reason why he enjoyed Castiel's small smile so much) and continued singing off key.
It was nice, finding small moments of joy such as this. Unfortunately though, in their lives, joy only leads to pain.
Dean saw the car a half second before Cas did, but it didn't matter. It was too late.
The car crashed into the front passenger side of the Impala, and both vehicles spun out into the ditch.
After a moment of shock, Cas was actually kind of alright. He could feel his body's bruised and broken ribs, slight internal bleeding, and concussion; but these things alone could not kill an angel. He was sure that, had he been human, he would be unconscious and in a lot of pain, but, as it happened, he only felt mild discomfort. His sluggish Grace was trying to repair the damage.
The angel immediately turned to his side, realizing that he did not hear any movement from the hunter. Indeed, he was unconscious: his bloody head lolled to the side, and it seemed that he was suffering from the same ailments that Cas himself was. Only, Dean was human, and these injuries could kill him.
Castiel's Grace was nothing like it used to be; he knew he could only save one of them with it.
He grabbed Dean's arm and sent all of his healing power into the hunter's body, and promptly succumbed to the dark tunnel clouding his senses.
Dean's eyes flew open just as Cas' were closing. Awareness hit him like a, well, like a car. He knew he should have pretty serious injuries right now but, judging by the unconscious angel and the now slack hand on his arm, he figured out pretty quickly why he didn't.
Then the panic set in. "Cas?" he said, sliding across the bench seat and gripping the angel's shoulder. "Cas, dammit, wake up." Dean was shaking him. Which, okay, he probably shouldn't be doing that, but the panic was overtaking all of his senses. "C'mon, dumbass, don't die because you saved me. Wake up."
He stopped shaking Cas and took note of his crumpled form: there was blood all over his face and head, and his legs looked to be pinned by the door. Dean placed a trembling hand tenderly on his face. "Cas, please, wake up."
For the first time Dean noticed the lights and sirens surrounding them - fire trucks, police cars, and an ambulance. Several firefighters were already approaching the Impala. One approached and opened the driver side door.
"Sir, how bad are you hurt?" the older guy asked.
Dean shook his head. "I'm not hurt. Help him, not me." He gestured to Cas.
"What's your name?"
"And your friend?"
"Cas." He couldn't even think to lie right now.
"Alright, Dean. You were in a pretty serious accident and probably have injuries. We'll take care of Cas, but we gotta look after you, too." His voice was placating, clearly meant to sooth.
Dean was not soothed. He adamantly shook his head. "I'm fine! I need you to save him." He heard a loud metallic sound and turned to see firefighters wrenching open the passenger door with heavy machinery.
"Dean. They're going to do the best they can to help him, I promise. I need you to come with me."
Dean stared a moment at the immobile form of the bloody angel, on whom the paramedics had managed to put a C-spine collar. They were currently trying to maneuver him onto a yellow backboard.
"Dean," the older firefighter said, trying to get his attention.
He nodded. "Alright, I'll go with you. But I don't need an ambulance. I'm fine." Without further ado, he exited his battered baby, although he didn't look too hard at the damage, for he was more concerned about the angel they were wheeling to the ambulance.
A paramedic appeared between Dean and the firefighter. "I'm fine, I'm ok."
"Sir, I need to check you for injuries -"
"I'm fine! See? No blood!"
The paramedic paused. "I admit, that is rather odd, especially given the state of your friend -"
"What?" Dean felt all the blood leave his body, only to be replaced by dizziness. "What's wrong with him?"
"We think he may have some broken ribs, which can lead to internal bleeding. A concussion is also possible. We'll know more once we get him to the hospital, which we have to do right now."
"Can I ride with him?"
She thought this over for a moment before nodding. "Sure. Get in."
So Dean's always been a fan of driving and riding, but this was easily one of the worst rides of his life. Because, the whole time, he just stared at the once-invincible angel who was now hooked up to an IV line and a heard monitor. It just wasn't right. Also, the ambulance driver was making him agitated because why the hell isn't he driving faster? Even though the (small) logical part of Dean's brain knew that the guy was probably pushing seventy, the greater, more frantic part was worried for his best friend.
Because how ironic would it be for a millennia old angel of the Lord, who had survived several apocalypses and humanity and actual death, to die in a freaking car accident?
Somehow they made it to the hospital, though Dean could never quite recall how, so focused was he on Cas. The paramedics quickly unloaded him from the ambulance into the waiting hands of doctors and nurses, all going back and forth with nonsensical-sounding medical jargon. Dean followed Cas all the way through the hospital, until they finally wheeled him into a room, and the hunter's progress was halted.
"Sir, do you know if he's allergic to any medications?" a young nurse asked him, standing in the doorway so Dean couldn't enter.
Dean watched the medical staff work around Cas, poking and prodding him. "Uh, no, he isn't. Can I go in there?"
She shook her head and put her hands out in front of her haltingly. "Sir, I need you to wait out here, at least until the preliminary tests are done."
"No, you don't understand -" He was quite honestly panicking. They had to let him in.
"You need to wait out here." She spoke with a firm, no-nonsense tone.
Dean was too stricken to argue, so stunned was he by the image of nurses performing such human tests on a being who was anything but.
When the nurse seemed content with the fact that Dean would not storm into the hospital room, she entered herself to help, leaving him standing helplessly in the middle of the hallway.
It had been two full hours. During that time, Dean had neither seen nor heard anything concerning Castiel's state, though that wasn't for lack of trying - every twenty minutes he asked the nurses of news and the response was always the same: "They're still running tests and working to patch up his insides. You'll know as soon as we know."
Dean also managed to call Sam and explain, in uncertain, imprecise, and stuttery terms, what happened. Sam, meanwhile, made a one hour drive in less than forty-five minutes. The younger Winchester stayed with his wrecked (no pun intended) brother for a while before being asked to locate the whereabouts of the Impala; so Sam went on his mission and had yet to return.
Dean was going out of his mind. Surely Cas couldn't die from bodily injuries, even if he was low on juice? The doctors would know if something was bad wrong with him. But what if something was wrong? What if they caught it too late? What if -
A voice startled the hunter from his thoughts, and he discovered the source of this to be the nurse from hours ago who first told him that he couldn't enter the room.
"Is he okay? Can I see him?"
"He's resting now. He had some internal injuries that have been repaired, a concussion, and some broken ribs. He'll have severe bruising for a while too. But he seems to be out of the woods for now, though we'd like to keep him overnight for observation."
Dean closed his eyes and sighed deeply with with relief. Cas was fine. Cas was going to be okay. He reopened his eyes and, now that the felt the weight off of his shoulders. "Can I see him now?" he repeated.
She nodded. “Of course, right this way. As I said, he’s resting, but he should be conscious soon enough.”
The nurse led him to a room and allowed him to enter before leaving, fortunately not staying to see the effect the patient had upon the man.
Because Dean could only gape. This immortal angel, the being who laid siege to Hell just to claim Dean’s tortured soul, was pale against the white bed sheets. The hunter had rarely seen this angel with his eyes closed for longer than the time it takes to blink, and, well, he didn’t much like it. At all. Dean missed looking into those deep blue depths (not that he’d ever say that out loud). Honestly, Dean would think Castiel was dead if it was not for the heart monitor steadily beating. And yeah, that’s a sound he didn’t think he would ever associate with Cas. Plus, though he knew that Cas was muscular underneath his ill-fitting trench coat and suit, the angel looked small amidst the sheets. There was also a white bandage covering part of his forehead.
Nervous flutters swept through Dean’s stomach before he squashed them down, opting to take the chair on Cas’ bedside. The irony of the situation did not pass by Dean - he, now, was watching Cas sleep. Though, in truth, he got it now: despite the fact that Cas was pale, the worry lines covering his face now were erased. He looked at least semi-peaceful.
Dean glanced down along his body and his eyes captured Cas’ hand. There was a cut on it that, from deep within, was glowing blue. Dean breathed a deep sigh of relief, as this was proof his Grace was repairing him. Then he thought about how he would explain a glowing blue cut to the doctor, and decided saying, “Oh yeah, he’s a capital-A Angel who just got kinda weak on juice, that’s why he’s glowing,” probably wouldn’t earn him any favors from the staff. So he did the only logical thing he could think of, and took Castiel’s hand between his own, effectively covering the cut. More flutters swept through him at the feeling of this warm calloused hand, which he refused to acknowledge.
(A small voice told him he could just hide his hand beneath the covers. This voice was ignored.)
The doctor, after reviewing his charts, finally decided it was best to talk to Mr. Smith concerning the state of his friend. He opened the hospital room door and was slightly taken aback by the sight of the man holding the hand of the patient. Although, he must admit, there was a certain softness in this man’s eyes, staring at the other man. The doctor recognized this look, for it was the same one his wife wore when she looked at him.
He cleared his throat, letting the door close with a squeak behind him. Mr. Smith flushed, knowing that he had been caught staring, or so it seemed, but he did not let go of the other man’s hand. In fact, he only seemed to tighten his hold on it.
“Good evening, Mr. Smith. My name is Dr. Beckner, and I am the one responsible for your friend,” he introduced cordially, straightening the collar of his white lab coat.
“How is he?” asked the freckled man, cutting straight to the point.
“Your friend sustained traumatic injuries. Amazingly, though, by the time we operated to fix the internal bleeding, most of it had appeared to have healed itself by that point.” Mr. Smith looked exceptionally relieved, as though a pressing issue had just been lifted from his mind. “He has some bruised and broken ribs, but nothing too serious. The most concerning injury is his concussion. Will you be the one taking care of him?”
“Yes.” The answer was quick and bore no sign of hesitation.
“Well, after he leaves this hospital, he is allowed to sleep some more. However, you have to wake him up every hour. Can you do this?”
“Yes, of course, Doc. Anything else?”
Dr. Beckner shook his head. “No, nothing. He should wake on his own soon.” He took a look at the charts, just to double check. "Tell me, how do you pronounce his first name? I’ve never quite seen anything like it."
"Castiel." There was a deep fondness bordering on reverence as Mr. Smith said this name. It was familiar in his mouth, like it was safe there, always.
"Castiel... that's an odd name,” the doctor remarked. “Nice though. Is he named after something?"
Mr. Smith glanced at the sleeping patient before responding. "An angel. He’s named after an angel."
Dr. Beckner was slightly surprised. There weren’t too many people named for angels nowadays. "So, if you don’t mind me asking, do you believe in angels?"
He openly stared at Castiel before responding with the utmost fondness in his eyes. "Only in one."
There was something so absolutely pure in this response, yet so intimate, that the doctor knew that he was intruding upon some kind of sentiment. Deciding that this was a perfect time to quit the room, he left, bidding the couple farewell.
Certainly it wasn’t the most exciting thing the angel has ever done before, but after watching him remain unconscious for almost two hours, Dean didn’t think he’d ever heard such a glorious sound before.
Blue eyes fluttered open. “Hey there, sunshine. Look who’s finally awake.”
“Dean,” Cas muttered. “Are you okay?”
Dumbass angel, always worrying about Dean before he worries about himself. “Yeah man, I’m fine.” He smiled, relief at Cas being awake almost overwhelming. All the fear of the past few hours slowly dissipated as he took in the sight of an awake, healthy-looking angel on the bed. Cas returned his smile softly. He really is beautiful. “You saved me.”
“I made a decision,” he responded, ever one to not take praise even when it’s deserved. “I knew I wasn’t going to die. But you, you were badly injured, Dean.”
“Yeah, well, so were you.” Then Castiel yawned, looking more adorably like a kitten than should be allowed. “I think I require more rest in order to heal. Would you…” he squinted at Dean, hesitant, “would you stay here?”
Dean smiled, then bent over to give Cas a soft kiss on his forehead before he could think twice about it. “’Course I’ll stay. As a matter of fact, scoot over, make some room.” Cas didn’t ask any questions as he made room for Dean to climb in beside him. Of course, two grown men in a small hospital bed didn’t make for an easy match, but they managed to find a position that was comfortable, wherein Castiel held Dean in his arms. Before falling asleep, Cas placed a kiss on Dean’s ear and whispered, “Love you.” And Dean, heart fluttering more than a thirteen-year-old with a crush, whispered it back.
Approximately four hours after he left the hospital, Sam finally returned with coffee for his brother. He really probably should’ve been more surprised when he found Dean in the angel’s arms, but, well. He wasn’t. So, he did what any good person would do: leave the coffee for the nurse at the desk, and, most importantly, take pictures for blackmail material later. Or possibly for wedding material. Either option was possible.