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I.

 

The bunker was quiet. Too quiet.
Laughter hadn’t been heard in days, all sense of joy seemed to be sucked out of every room, and everything felt dark.

On some nights, you could hear faint sobbing coming from the bedroom of the Winchester, others all you could hear was the crack of another bottle being opened. Tonight you could hear neither.

Sam sat in silence in the library, the once warm lighting in the room now dim and somber, like they’d given up on shining. His hair was tangled, eyes red, face sweaty, and his overall composure read as: exhausted.

In front of him was a large book, the thickest one Sam could find. It showcases personal stories from the past Men of Letters, some of them in gruesome detail. Thoughts raced through his mind as he read through the pages, each sentence pouncing off the page as if they were attacking him.

“Split up, ended badly. My idea, my fault..”

“We lost one of our men tonight because of that drastic mistake.”

“A man I had a fond liking for left, for good. He decided this life wasn’t for him anymore. I miss him dearly.”

Sam sighed, he related to the tellings all too well. He thought reading would help, would take away some of the grief. The pain. It wasn’t working. He shut the book, closing that part of his mind as he stood up and made his way back to the friendly kitchen, opened the fridge, and picked out another welcoming beer. Sam knew he shouldn’t be drinking so much, he feared he was getting too close to where his father was, but that didn’t stop him. He was too far gone now. He waltzed back to the library and a sudden urge waved over him.

He wanted to punch something.

He wanted to punch something now.

Sam threw the bottle to the ground, the sound of shattering glass piercing throughout the bunker. He let out an excruciating scream, not holding back. It's not like anyone would hear him.

His lungs felt as if they would collapse if he screamed any louder, and it all stopped, an eerie silence overtaking the bunker. Sam breathed for a moment, chest heaving up and down. His legs gave out beneath him and he now sat on the floor of the library, the beer pooling not so far away from him.

He cried.

Sam couldn’t take it anymore. He thought he had moved on and gotten past it. Apparently not. The tears burned streaks down his face, and he was embarrassed. He felt like a child, though everyone had been telling him these “feelings” were normal. They said his pain would move on over time.

“Why can’t it move on faster?” he asked himself, another tear falling freely to the ground.

He heard the faint click of heels coming from the war room and sat up straight, swiftly wiping any evidence of pain from his face. No one could see him like this.

“Sam? Are you alright?” a familiar face popped out from the war room.

“Hey, Cas,” Sam sighed, standing and meeting Castiel in the entryway of the library. “Yeah, I’m all good.” He put on his best smile and tried to push past his racing thoughts. He thought he had everything under control until Cas said those few words.

“Where’s Dean?”

Sam’s face fell. Of course, Cas didn’t know. He had been MIA for weeks now, god knows why. Sam made his way to the closest table and took a seat, Cas following suit and taking the chair across from him. He had that squinty face on, like he knew what you were thinking but didn’t know how to respond. Sam couldn’t take it and said the first thing that came to mind, somewhat frustratingly.

“Where have you been?”

“My apologies, Sam. I’ve been quite busy with finding my grace. I-”

“Your apologies?” Sam was feeling as though he’d snap like a twig. “You leave for weeks, without a word to ei- to me. I’ve been worried sick. I can’t... I can’t lose you too.” He mumbled the last part, looking down to the table, face in his hands. Everything felt empty, hot, and unbearable.

“Sam?” Castiel spoke quietly, he noticed something was wrong. “Sam, where is Dean?” he tilted his head to grab Sam’s attention.

Sam breathed in deep, and let out a shaky sigh. He didn’t want to say it. He couldn’t. But he tried.

“He’s…”

A pause, it felt like years.

“It’s okay Sam, just tell me.”

“He’s gone.”

“...What?”

“He’s gone for good, Cas. He’s gone.”

 

II.

 

Castiel felt as though the world had just ended. The pain was worse than falling from heaven along with his brothers and sisters, losing his grace and everything he held dear in the process. All emotions plagued him at once, and it was quite overwhelming. Sure, he was an angel, but he was closer than ever to being human again at this point, with his grace slowly dwindling. The grace Crowley had “gotten him” seemed to be working for now, but Cas could tell it wouldn’t last for long.

The feelings going through him were like nothing he’d ever felt before, and he wanted it to end as soon as it had started. He looked to Sam with a solemn face, unable to comprehend what was going on.

Sam looked up to him, tears streaking down his face once again, and Cas could tell he was in immense pain. Sam just shook his head and leaned onto the table, his sobbing quickly taking control.

Castiel cried too, for the first time. The initial tear that broke past his hard features felt like a weight off of his shoulders. He had never shown this much emotion before, but this felt like an appropriate time. He was silent, unmoving. Just allowing the single tear to fall. He looked down at his hands and quietly asked,

“How?”

Sam looked up and sighed, trying his best to gather composure. “We were hunting... a vetala.” he racked his mind back to five days ago. Had it already been five days?

“We split up in the abandoned building we were in and,” he took a breath. “I couldn’t get there in time. The vetala- she took his knife and stabbed him, right in the chest,” his voice quivered as he looked into Castiel’s comforting eyes. “I watched it. He looked so scared, Cas. I couldn’t do anything…” Sam lowered his voice. “Eventually, I killed her and carried Dean all the way back here.”

Cas looked at Sam throughout the entire story, not wanting to interrupt. How could Dean have been so careless? That wasn’t like him. Once Cas realized Sam was finished, he spoke up quietly, as if breaking the silence would cause more grief.

“Where?” he clarified, “Where is he?”

“He-he's buried. In Lawrence.” Sam admitted and looked displeased with himself. “I didn’t want to burn him in case…” he trailed off.

“I understand.” Cas nodded. He wiped his face with the sleeve of his trenchcoat with a small sniff and made his way to leave, sliding out of his chair and turning towards the war room.

“Where are you going?” he heard a broken voice behind him.

“Lawrence,” Cas replied simply.

“Take me with you.”

“Sam-”

“Take me with you.” Sam reiterated, standing and moving towards Cas.

Seeing Sam’s shattered expression compelled Cas to give in and he agreed. “Alright. We can take my car, it's parked just outside.” He gestured towards the door at the top of the staircase.

“No offense, Cas, but that thing has seen better days. I don't think we'd make it there in less than three years.” Sam said with a slight chuckle, trying to lighten the mood.

Castiel smiled, but then his brows wrinkled in question. “What other car could we possibly-?” he realized as he spoke. “The Impala.” He whispered, his gaze turning to the floor.

“Yeah, Cas. It's in the garage, I've got the keys.” Sam explained. “Is that okay?” he asked with a soft expression.

Cas contemplated, but soon nodded. “Can I drive?” he asked quietly. “It makes me feel like I'm flying again.”

Sam's face grew sympathetic. “Of course.” he made his way to the garage leaving Castiel with his thoughts.

A vetala? Dean had died to a vetala? Of all things, Cas would've never suspected Dean to go down from such a creature. Though, the last time Cas was at the bunker, Dean hadn't been himself, to say the least. He was struggling as the Mark still held control. It seemed to drastically damper his mood, like all he could do was be angry and depressed.

Castiel thought he would be better, after going hunting a few times and relaxing to take the edge off, but Dean seemed to be out of it. Cas noticed him drinking more, sleeping more, not leaving his room. And when Dean did leave his room, all that could be found in there were broken lamps, glass shattered everywhere, and wood splinters covering the floor. Perhaps Dean had reached the point of no return, and that showed in the hunt.

That's when Cas realized something on the library floor: a shattered bottle that looked all too familiar. Was Sam getting to that breaking point too? He couldn't lose both of the brothers, and he decided then and there to protect Sam at all costs, and do whatever it takes to get Dean back, even if Sam advised against it. Cas sighed, holding back any visible emotion as Sam appeared in the doorway.

“Impala's parked out front, when you're ready.” He said as he made his way to the staircase. Cas silently followed behind him.

The air outside was thick, and a light rainfall trickled down on Sam and Castiel’s heads.

How appropriate.

As they approached the Impala, bunker locked behind them, Cas felt guilt wash over him. This was Dean’s car. And Dean is dead. He questioned if he should even be driving “Baby” as he opened the door and sat down to face a steering wheel.

The steering wheel that Dean once held.

Cas couldn't do it. He couldn't bear to sit in the seat Dean sat in. No matter how empty or silent it felt in that car, he could still hear Dean’s stupid rock music and his stupid laugh and his stupid everything. He turned to Sam who was now in the passenger seat, and his emotions must have been showing because Sam soon spoke up.

“You okay, Cas? I can drive if you need me to.”

“Yes, Sam. I’d appreciate that. I can't seem to...to do it.”

Castiel felt a bit of shame, but it dissipated with Sam’s soothing expression. He got out and made his way to the passenger side, while Sam started the engine that turned on with a growl. Cas knew the drive was four hours long, so he leaned against the passenger door and stared out into the, now stormy, sky. Rain covered the windows and Cas wondered if this was God’s way of mocking him for shedding his first tear. But he knew deep down his father wasn't there. Not now, anyway.

That didn't keep him from praying.

Please. Let Dean come back. I'll do anything. I know I'm not a pure angel anymore, and I haven't been for a long time, but I need Dean. Sam needs Dean. The world needs Dean Winchester and so help me God, I will get him back.

 

**********************

 

The car ride was over before he knew it, and Castiel hesitated to step out once Sam parked next to a dark and lonely graveyard. It was too much. He felt Sam’s touch on his shoulder and glanced over.

“Come on, Cas. It'll be okay.” Sam reassured.

Cas nodded and opened the passenger door to a chill in the air. The rain had let up, now a light mist. Lawrence was a cold, damp, and sad place. At least it was today.

He followed Sam to a gravestone and approached it with caution and held breath as Sam stayed back a bit. It was marbled and mostly black, with the words “Here lies Dean Winchester. Brother, Hunter, and Friend.” in gold engraving.

Cas sighed. It felt too simple. Dean, of all people, deserved a novel carved into his gravestone. As he stared at the golden words shouting at him, Castiel felt overwhelmed. It all became too real.

He kneeled down, an action he once saved for only his father, and he placed his hands on the ground where Dean laid, buried. Cas bowed his head and summoned his wings with a whisper in Enochian, and the black masses spread out behind him. They were weak, frilled, and burned, and he spread them further, despite the pain. A crack of thunder was heard throughout the heavens, rain pouring so hard now that Sam had to take shelter under a nearby tree. Castiel began to speak loudly as if shouting at his old home in the sky.

“Dean Winchester, come back. Come back to me.”

There was a blinding flash of light, the ground rumbled, and Castiel was gone.

 

III.

 

It was all white.

Of course, it would be fucking white.

Dean felt nothing. This wasn’t like the heaven he and Sam had been in many years ago. It was as though he was lost, with the barren wasteland of white teasing him. Was he actually in heaven? Or trapped in his own mind, unable to dream of anything so it all became bare. The thought plagued Dean, was he actually dead?

He glanced down, and sure enough, the mark was still there, if a bit paler. He sighed. Dean felt around his chest, though, and there wasn’t a wound. Perks of being dead, I guess.

There was a bit of relief mixed in with the emotions he was feeling. At least he wasn’t in Hell, or Purgatory for that matter. He looked around more, trying to spot anything that would give him a clue as to how to get out. Dean started to walk, he didn’t know where he was going, but he needed to just move.

As he walked, Dean started to remember. Flashes of memories passed in front of him.

Me and Sam, on a hunt. There was a vetala, nasty bitch. Sam split up and went around the back of the building we were in, I went straight ahead. Stupid.

Dean had been so distracted by the burning mark on his forearm, he didn’t notice the creature dashing in front of him, her blue eyes masking his vision before he was bitten. He couldn’t move, couldn’t scream. The vetala took the silver dagger from his hand, and right as Sam came into his peripherals, he felt the cold metal slice through his flesh. He was so scared, he didn’t want Sam to see this. He couldn’t leave his brother. He couldn’t leave Cas.

Dean returned to the present, the last thought consuming his mind. He stopped walking as he heard a loud crack, making him jump. At first, he thought he must have been the cause of it, but soon enough he saw a figure. It was stark black against the white of, wherever he was.

“Hello?” Dean called out, using his voice for the first time since he came to.

The figure appeared to be getting closer, and Dean moved forwards, his feet gravitated towards it. Who, or what, was it? What did it want?

“Hey, who are you?” Dean questioned, his face screwing in interest as he got closer.

“Dean?” A voice called out, one he needed to hear.

Dean stopped in his tracks, the figure moving faster towards him now. He squinted and saw the faintest outline of a coat and his breath hitched.

“Cas?” Dean said, his voice cracking. He moved even quicker towards, hopefully, his angel. Nope. Nuh-uh, not now. His friend. As the familiar face came into view Dean smiled in relief and dashed over to Cas, pulling him into his arms. He felt real, this was real. Dean was safe.

“Dean!” Cas huffed as he was grappled into the hug, soon placing his arms around Dean. “Are you alright? You aren’t hurt?”

Dean shifted back and let go to look into Castiel’s stunning eyes. Stop doing that. “As good as I can be, Cas,” he admitted. He was so thankful to see the angel again, but he wouldn’t say that out loud. “Do you know where we are?”

Cas went silent as he glanced around the void of colorlessness that surrounded them. “I assume we’re in Heaven, but this isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen.” He observed. “There are no other angels and no way to get out.” Cas started to pace now, looking for anything out of the ordinary that could prove as an exit.

Running a hand down his face, Dean sighed. “So we’re stuck here?” He looked around as if he could see something Cas couldn’t. Still nothing, dumbass. He watched as the angel stopped and did his signature squint, and Dean gave a small smile. That’d never get old.

“Dean, I can get you out of here,” Castiel began, turning towards Dean now. “I can rebuild you, like before. Send you back to earth, with Sam.”

“Okay,” Dean said slowly. “What’s the catch?”

“My grace, it’s fading, Dean.” he always said his name like it was a goddamn blessing.

“Cas…”

“I won’t be able to come with you.”

 

IV.

 

Suddenly, Dean Winchester in all his glory was glaring at Castiel as if he had just suggested throwing a puppy off a cliff.

“No,” Dean grabbed the angel’s arm, digging into the fabric of the trenchcoat. “No way, Cas. I’m not leaving you. Not again.”

Castiel noticed something in Dean’s eyes, a glint of sorrow, perhaps? Regret? Whatever it may have been, Cas lowered his head at Dean’s words. It was never Dean’s fault Cas was left in purgatory, he chose to stay there. He wanted Dean out. This was no different.

“There is no other way, Dean,” Castiel spoke softly. “Soon I will be of no use to you or Sam anyways, I see no need of me returning to earth.”

It broke Castiel’s heart to speak those words out loud, but he felt they were true. With his grace merely non-existent now, Cas was weak. He could barely summon his wings at the graveyard, and one last act to save his righteous man felt like a deserving way to go. He’d do anything to protect Dean, that promise was made long ago. Castiel never expected to leave so soon into his life with the Winchesters, but he was content. He just hoped Dean would understand.

He heard Dean’s breath hitch and the grip on Cas’ arm was replaced with a longing for warmth.

“Of no use?” Dean questioned, “What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”

“I told you, Dean. My grace is straining. I won’t be able to aid you and Sam on hunts anymore as a human, if I even survive my grace burning out.” Cas responded quietly. Truth be told, he was terrified of becoming human once again, though that was a small possibility compared to perishing. Where do angels even go when they die?

Dean’s face appeared broken, and Castiel’s fell at that. He never meant to hurt the hunter. Dean would be with Sam, that’s all that mattered, right?

“Cas,” Dean breathed deeply. “Cas you’re not useless without your angel mojo. Sure, it comes in handy during hunts, but man, we enjoy your company. You’re not just some tool we call in to fix everything, and I...I’m sorry if it seems that way, I am.” he paused, running a hand over his eyes. “Look, I meant what I said back in that crypt. I need you. I need you. With or without your powers, it doesn’t matter. We’re family, Cas.”

Castiel was taken aback at first, not expecting that from the Winchester. But soon his surprise was drowned out with anger and betrayal. Dean was lying. He had to be.

“You know none of that is true,” he spoke with authority. “You and Sam, countless times, only enjoy my company when I’m helping you. When I was human before, you kicked me out. Thought I would forget that? Dean, just because you’ve gotten past that and I’ve gotten what little grace I could, doesn’t make any of it okay. If...” Cas paused and sighed. “When I lose my grace, it will be like that all over again. I can’t handle being kicked to the street like some dog again. I won’t let you do that.”

Dean stayed silent, he seemed at a loss for words. He, nor Cas, had seen that rant coming, but it felt justified. Dean’s eyes were clouded, and his jaw clenched as he searched for a response.

Sensing no answer from the hunter, Cas continued. “So that, Dean, is why I’m staying here and getting you back home. You are all that matters to the world. Sam is all that matters to you. I shall get you back to him, whatever the cost.” he had moved closer to Dean at this point, they were one step away from breathing the same air. Cas lowered his head, desperately hoping for Dean to agree with him and understand the truth, his truth.

The next words out of Dean Winchester’s mouth would stick with the angel for as long as he lived.

“Castiel, you listen to me,” Dean said clearly, grasping Cas’ attention. “I care about you. I care about my brother. You both matter to me. But Cas,” he shifted and sighed, his shoulders lowering. “You’re different, man. You’re family, yes, but you’re not like Sam. I think we’ve both known that for a while, and I wish this conversation could’ve happened when we weren’t trapped in this intergalactic hellhole. Cas, we are getting out of here. Together. Or we can rot in here. Together. I won’t leave here without you. I can’t.”

The white void fell silent.

 

V.

Dean held his breath. Had he really just told Cas his feelings? Well, he did in true Winchester fashion, anyway, by not blatantly saying it. He couldn't. Not yet.

Castiel stared, the blue deepness of his eyes were piercing through Dean’s soul, searching for the lie in Dean’s words. Soon he broke eye contact, glancing around at anything that wasn’t Dean. His hands fidgeted by his side, messing with the buttons on his trenchcoat until he finally broke the silence.

“I’ll find a way out of here,” he said, looking up to Dean. “For both of us.”

Dean’s eyes grew soft, silently thanking Cas not only for accepting his words, but not bringing up the thing he had mentioned. They’d talk about that later.

If they ever got out of here.

“So, what, is this my heaven? A white wasteland?” Dean asked. Castiel had to know something, right?

Cas raised his head and looked around once again. “It appears as such. I don’t understand why it’s all nothing, though. There has to be some kind of latch, to allow us to exit.” he explained.

“Cas, we’ve been looking at squat for hours now,” Hours? Minutes? He didn’t know. “There’s no latch, there’s no anything.” he thought about it for a moment and asked, “How the hell did you get up here, anyway?” Dean had a feeling they could leave the way Cas arrived, though it was a longshot.

“I’m not sure,” he said as Dean scoffed. Cas ignored it. “I was brought here after kneeling at your grave, asking you to come back, with my…” Castiel trailed off, looking to his hands. He seemed embarrassed.

“With your…?” Dean pressed, he was getting a bit impatient, but he tried to push it down for the angel.

“My wings,” Cas responded quietly. “I had my wings summoned completely, anyone could have seen them.” his forehead wrinkled in concentration. “Perhaps the remaining power of my grace was channeled through them and brought me to you as I spoke your name. I could attempt to do that again, though what will happen afterward I’m not too sure of.” Cas was looking at Dean now, his eyes appeared worried but assured.

Dean breathed long and deep as he thought through everything. “Are you sure you can summon them again? With your grace all…” he gestured wildly, not finding the right words.

Castiel lowered his gaze. “Yes, I should be alright. Enough to get us both home, at least. Though I must admit, you may not want to look at my wings.” he trailed off, blue eyes hesitating to meet green.

Dean didn’t understand why, but he slowly nodded. “Alright well, bring out those white feather dusters then, Cas,” he said, barely noticing the angel flinch. Dean’s face grew curious but he said nothing further.

“Close your eyes, Dean,” Cas spoke, and Dean obeyed. He mumbled words in Enochian, and after a large flash of light, a whoosh could be heard in the vastness. There was a silence, and then Castiel said, “You can look now, if you wish.”

Somewhat timidly, Dean opened his eyes to a very unexpected sight.

Black.

They were so black and so frail, feathers sticking out oddly from each wing. Each wing seemed huge, reaching at least six feet on either side of the angel. They tensed up as Cas met his eyes to Dean’s, folding on themselves as to protect who they belonged to.

“Holy shit,” Dean came closer to his angel. “I…” he hesitated.

“I’m sorry you have to see them like this, it must be disappointing.”

Dean stopped suddenly. “Disappointing? Cas…” he reached his hand out but didn’t touch. “Cas, they’re beautiful.”

Castiel tilted his head and squinted before his wings slowly came up behind him. He looked to them. “Dean, they’re an abomination. No angel’s wings should look like this.”

“Hey, you’re not just ‘some angel’, alright?” Dean sighed. “They’re perfect, you’re perfect. No matter how many feathers you’ve got missing.” he offered a small smile, which Cas returned.

Instead of responding with words, Castiel responded with touch. His right-wing stretched closer to Dean, as his blue eyes stayed steadily on the hunter’s face. Dean felt feathers brush his shoulder, and he held his breath as the wing wrapped around him. Soon enough, the left wing joined, and Dean was brought into the weirdest bear-hug he’d ever felt in his life.

“I think they like you, Dean.”

“What, they got a mind of their own?” Dean chuckled nervously as the warmth from the wings spread over him.

“In a sense, yes. What’s left of my grace is… attracted to you, I suppose.”

“Oh.”

Great reply, dumbass. “Uh, I mean that’s...cool,” Dean swallowed. “I like your wings too, Cas.”

Cas gave a soft turn of his lips and stepped closer. His wings pulled back and silhouetted the angel. He reached his hand out to Dean, looking hopeful. “Do you trust me, Dean?”

“With my life,” Dean took Castiel’s hand, albeit slowly. “Let’s get outta here.”

“As you wish, close your eyes.” Cas’ voice was steady. “And hold on to me, Dean. Do not let go.”

“You sure you’re gonna be okay, man?”

“I…yes, Dean.” emotions sparked behind Castiel’s eyes. “I promise.”

Dean’s face screwed tightly with concern, but he nodded and stepped towards Cas, hands still linked. He wrapped his free arm around the angel’s waist and leaned his head down on a firm shoulder. Normally at this point, he’d quip some cheesy pick-up line, but words seemed strangled in his throat. This felt wrong.

“Ready?”

“Yeah.”

Lids closed over green irises and Dean tensed. Would this really work? God, he hoped so.

Castiel began to speak powerfully in Enochian, and the pale ground beneath them began to shake. A whoosh could be heard as wings began to spread and flap. “Salman,” Cas repeated. Home.

Dean held on tighter to his angel and squeezed his eyes as a bright light emitted from Castiel’s body. Was that his grace? What if he used it all and… Dean panicked in his mind but refused to let go as Cas’ voice rang out. There was another loud whoosh and everything went still.

 

VI.

The first thing Dean noticed when he came to was the cold, and a constant dripping on his face. He slowly blinked and saw color. No more white, but a grey and clouded sky. He felt damp grass beneath him as he laid there, and began to move his hands through it. He saw headstones all around him and knew exactly where he was. It was all real, he was alive.

He spotted movement to the left of him and sure enough, his little brother was rushing towards him with open arms.

“Dean? Oh my god, are you alright?”

“Sammy. Yeah… yeah, it’s all good.”

“What happened? Was Cas with you?”

That got Dean’s attention. “What? Yeah, he uh… he got me out of there.” He started to sit up, wondering if his angel was nearby.

And there, to Dean’s right, lay an unmoving angel, face hidden out of sight. Dean froze.

“...Cas?” Dean whispered and moved towards the still body. “Oh my God,” he said as his hand touched Castiel’s. It was so cold. “Sammy go get something, anything, oh Jesus…” Dean stuttered out quickly and heard his brother’s soft steps move away. “Cas?” his voice broke as he reached out and pulled Castiel into his arms. Blue eyes stayed closed and he barely breathed, the movement of his chest almost unnoticeable.

“Cas, you son of a bitch don’t do this to me,” Dean said as he ran a hand down his angel’s face. His eyes started to sting when he felt no response under his fingers. “You promised…” he leaned his forehead to Cas’ and closed his eyes. Dean silently prayed. To what, he didn’t know. Cas couldn’t just leave him like this. His angel had to be okay. He had to be.

“Dean?” Castiel spoke, so faint it was barely there, but Dean heard it like a wailing siren. The hunter pulled back suddenly, looking into those special eyes. He’s okay.

“Fuck, Cas, are you alright? What happened, I…” Dean was at a loss for words. He was so relieved his angel was alive, but that sense of dread washed over him.

“My grace, Dean,” Cas whispered and stared into green eyes. “It’s gone. I’m… I’m human.” His breathing sped up suddenly in panic and he made a pained noise.

“Hey, hey it’s alright, you’re gonna be okay.” Dean ran a hand through Cas’ hair, trying to calm him.

“It hurts. Everything hurts.”

“Just breathe, Cas.”

“I can’t, Dean. I got you home, that’s all that matters.” Castiel’s voice wavered. “I don’t think I-”

“Cas, stop. Don’t.” Dean’s words were choppy, he felt like he was going to break.

“I’m sorry, Dean.” Wide eyes looked up to the hunter, and a tear fell down the angel’s face.

“Do not fucking apologize, I won’t let that be the last thing I hear from you,” Dean whispered.

Castiel fell silent, but his breathing still stayed, albeit shallow. After some thought, he finally spoke.

“I love you.”

Dean couldn’t hold back any longer, and he cried. His body trembled as he looked down to his angel. “I love you too, Cas. So much.” his cheeks heated with tears as the breathing of the body in his arms began to slow. Dean shook his head, this can’t be it, please.

“Dean?”

“Yeah, Cas.”

“Kiss me.”

Without hesitation, Dean leaned down and brought his lips to Cas’, slow but sure. He tasted the saltiness of tears as he felt the warm body beneath him lean into the kiss.

And then he didn’t.

Castiel no longer pressed against Dean, his lips went cold, and his body fell heavy.

“Cas?”

No response.

“Cas!” Dean shook the angel lightly, and his vision clouded with tears.

Nothing.

Dean pulled Castiel close and sobbed freely. He once again saw Sam in his peripherals, but this time he felt a different pain go through his chest. A deeper one. He felt like he’d died again, and he wasn’t coming back.

“Cas, baby, please…” Dean whispered into Cas’ hair. “I love you so much, Cas, please.”

Dean didn't leave the graveyard for hours.

He held his angel and wept.

 

VII.

 

Sam ended up burying Castiel in Dean’s empty grave. The older Winchester just couldn’t do it. Once the brothers had gotten back to the bunker, late that Thursday night, Dean immediately headed to his room with copious bottles of alcohol and locked his door.

It was now Saturday night, and he had yet to leave his room, minus the few bathroom breaks he decided he needed after that sixth beer. Dean refused to eat and didn’t even bother to reach out to anyone, let alone his brother. Eventually, Sam left to go on a hunt, but Dean didn’t need details. He just drank and drank, occasionally his eyes stung but he never shed a tear.

God, he missed his angel.

Dean glanced down to his arm, that goddamn mark teasing him. That’s what got him killed before. What hurt Sam, and Cas too. The horrible itch wouldn’t go away, and Dean made a decision.

He would never let anyone get hurt again over the cursed blood running through him.

It wasn’t exactly a hard decision for him to make, he’d been here countless times. He just never thought he’d go through with it. Losing Castiel was his breaking point, and without his brother there to stop him, well.

Dean leaned over to his bedstand and grabbed his trusty pistol. He ran his fingers over the carvings, silently thanking them for protecting him on so many hunts. Now, though, it would protect others from Dean himself. He always said he’d die with a gun in his hand.

He swallowed hard and raised the gun under his jaw. He blinked and breathed in deep before turning off the safety. He placed his finger on the trigger and smiled slightly with burning eyes, it would all be okay.

Dean pushed his finger down, and it was over.

The shot rang out through the bunker, echoing off metal walls and traveling to no listening ears. Everything fell quiet. The wind stopped blowing, rain no longer fell, every living being stuttered in their footsteps.

The earth had lost Dean Winchester once again.

But he opened his eyes.

It was all white.