The first thing Dean sees when he opens his sore eyes is Castiel. His blue eyes seem concerned, but they quickly shift into relief as he approaches the side of the bed.
“Hello, Dean,” Castiel says, sounding really relieved.
“Hey, Cas,” Dean greets. As Castiel gets closer, Dean can see that he has horrible circles around his eyes and that his hair is a complete mess.
“How are you feeling?” Castiel asks, looking directly at Dean’s eyes.
“Tired.” He sighs and looks around the hospital room. He doesn’t remember how he got there. “Where are we?”
“In a hospital.”
Dean fights the urge to roll his eyes. “State. City.”
Dean nods. “Where’s Sam?”
“He went to the cafeteria to eat something. Given that he bled a less amount of blood than you, he didn’t have to be urgently intervened.”
Dean nods. To defeat Chuck, they had needed Billie’s help. Given that Amara was still alive and didn’t want to do anything with her brother, the balance between lightness and darkness had to disappear somehow. For that, Billie needed to become more powerful than God. She could have reaped him, but if she had done that, the balance would have fallen onto the darkness, and that was something no one wanted.
Billie had to annihilate that balance, and the only way she could do that was with a spell performed by her and Rowena. And of course, the spell required some sacrifices.
The life of a Nephilim. The grace of a fallen angel. Four liters of blood from two men who had been in Hell. Those were the hardest ingredients. Billie had to acquire a scythe from a reaper and Rowena had to find a weapon that was used to kill her in the past. Rowena’s ingredient was hard to find, but it wasn’t a sacrifice.
Jack didn’t hesitate to give up his life. And neither did Castiel when he had to give up his grace. Dean gave his blood, almost everything, because the spell only dictated that four liters were required in total. It didn’t matter if there was more of one blood than the other; as long as there were four liters in total and that there were two different bloods, proportions didn’t matter.
That’s how he ended up in the hospital; he gave three liters of blood while Sam gave just one. Sam had argued against it, but Dean had always been the first one to jump into the whole self-sacrifice act and protect his brother.
“How’re you doing?” Dean asks, looking at Cas. “You’re human again.”
Castiel grimaces. “I’m just doing.”
Before Dean can say anything else, Sam appears in the room, his eyes brightening as he sees Dean awake.
“You’re finally awake,” Sam says, smiling.
“Yeah,” Dean says, trying to smile, but failing.
“You shouldn’t have given almost all your blood.”
Dean rolls his eyes. “Save the whole lecture for later, alright? Or better yet, save it for never. Chuck’s gone and we’re alive. That’s what matters.”
“Jack’s not alive,” Sam says with a painful grimace.
Neither Castiel nor Dean says anything about that.
“The kid is alright,” Billie says, making the three men turn their heads in the direction of her voice. Billie stands behind Castiel, wearing her characteristic black clothes and her white ring. “He’s in Heaven, and the Empty won’t come for him. Ever.” She looks at Castiel as she says that.
“The Empty?” Dean inquires, frowning.
“That’s where angels and demons go when they die. Also, Nephilims.”
“Why would you do that?” Castiel asks.
Billie makes a half smile. “You three have given me more power than any of you would have ever wanted me to have. You are the reason I am this powerful now, and I don’t like owing anything to anyone.” She looks at the three of them, her gaze turning sharper. “Sooner or later, each of you would have asked of something from me, claiming that I owe you for my current power, so I think that it’s better if I already pay my debt with all of you. Rowena has already received something. And Jack is in Heaven, with his mother, without the fear of the Empty dragging him to its territory.”
“And why not bring back Jack?” Sam asks.
“Because of the same reason I can’t restore Castiel’s grace. Because if I bring him back to life, the spell breaks, and with the spell broken, the balance between the lightness and the darkness comes back. Which is something none of us wants.”
Dean, Castiel and Sam just look at Billie, not knowing what to say.
“Jack gets to be in Heaven, with Kelly Kline. That’s better than being in the Empty,” Billie says.
“But not better than being alive,” Castiel snaps.
“If sacrifices were easy and didn’t have any consequences, they wouldn’t be called sacrifices.”
“And what’s your sacrifice, then?” Dean asks. “Because you’re the one who gained the most without losing anything.”
“My sacrifice consists on having to fix some things that I didn’t have to fix in order to keep you three satisfied with the deal.”
“Have you considered that maybe we don’t want anything more from you?” Dean makes a sassy smile and glares her.
Billie chuckles. “You do want what I offer. And I know you won’t refuse it.”
“What makes you so sure?”
Billie looks directly at Castiel who frowns. “For starters, I got rid of Castiel’s deal with the Empty.”
Castiel looks at her, with his lips parted, unable to say a word, while Dean and Sam look at Billie, confused and shocked.
“What deal?” Dean asks, while Sam asks, “What are you talking about?”
Billie then looks at Castiel, who is glaring her. “They didn’t know, did they?”
“No,” Castiel answers.
“Castiel made a deal with the Empty back when Jack first died. He offered himself instead of Jack, but the Empty was not satisfied with that deal. Instead, the Empty offered to let Jack alone that time, but the Empty promised to drag Castiel with him once Castiel was fully happy.”
Dean looks at Castiel, devastated. He can’t believe that Castiel made a deal like that and he didn’t tell them about it. He didn’t tell him about it. “How could you do that?” Dean asks, hating how shaky his voice comes.
“I had to get the Empty away from Jack and that was the only way,” Castiel answers, without looking at Dean.
“You could’ve been dragged to the empty at any moment and we wouldn’t have known! What the fuck were you thinking?!”
“It doesn’t matter now,” Billie interrupts, clearly irritated. “I made the Empty break the deal. Castiel is now human, with a soul, so he will go to Heaven or Hell when he dies. The Empty will never come after you.”
“Thank you,” Castiel mutters.
“Now, for the Winchesters,” Billie says, walking past Castiel and looking at Sam and Dean. “I closed the gates of Hell so no demon can get out. I did the same with Heaven, so no angel can get out. I even created a few more angels to avoid the collapse of Heaven. The last thing any of us wants is another apocalypse. Heaven and Hell will keep working, being able to receive any soul that goes in there. But you won’t have to worry any more about angels or demons trying to kill you. The only thing you’ll have to worry about, are monsters.”
“You could have gotten rid of the monsters while you were at it,” Dean suggests, bitterly. Although he is glad that he won’t have to deal with angels or demons anymore.
Billie glares him. “That’s asking too much. You three and Rowena are alive. The Empty isn’t after Jack nor Castiel. You won’t have to fight against God nor angels nor demons anymore. I think that you three have gained more than you expected.”
“And now what are you gonna do?” Sam asks, giving her a distrustful glance.
“Keep being Death.”
“That’s all?” Dean asks, but by the time he finishes his question, Billie is completely gone. “Fucking awesome. Really fucking awesome,” he grunts.
“Let’s hope she was telling the truth,” Sam says, rubbing his nape.
Dean snorts and the he looks at Castiel, who has turned around but isn’t looking at Dean’s face. “I can’t believe you made that deal.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Castiel says. “I’m free of it.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Sam asks, sounding hurt, but less than Dean.
“I didn’t want to worry you. I wanted to give you two a win without any consequences.”
“You should have told us,” Dean mutters, angrily. “How do you think we would have felt if one day, you suddenly died without any apparent reason? Do you think we would have been okay with that?”
Do you think I would have been okay with seeing you die again? Do you think I would recover from that? Dean wants to ask, but doesn’t. When it comes to he and Cas, things are complicated and he never says out loud what he really wants to say.
“I had to be happy in order to get dragged to the Empty,” Castiel explains, and something in his voice makes Dean’s heart ache. The ex-angel sounds angry, but so sad, and also resigned, and Dean hates it. “That was unlikely to happen.”
A part of Dean has to agree with him, because in their life, happiness is something that neither of them knows.
“You should have told us,” Dean repeats, still angry. “You always do this; you hide important stuff from us! And when it’s too late to do something about it or when things are fucked up, you finally tell us! When are you gonna stop doing this shit?!”
Castiel glares him. “I didn’t want to add any more distress to you! We still had to deal with Michael! The last thing you needed was another problem to worry about!”
“You don’t get to decide what we should or shouldn’t know!”
“Guys! Stop!” Sam yells before Castiel can yell at Dean. “The problem is solved, so there’s no point in arguing about what should have been done.”
Dean puffs, annoyed with his brother. There is a point in arguing about the topic, and the point is showing Cas that he fucked up and that he should stop hiding important stuff from them and stop risking his life.
“Cas,” Sam says, clearing his throat. “Find the doctor and tell her that Dean’s awake. I’m gonna call Rowena and tell her that Dean’s alright.” At that Dean arches both eyebrows. “She was really concerned about your well-being.”
Dean chuckles. “That’s a first.”
The next day, they drive back home, to the bunker. Sam is the one who insists on driving because Dean still needs some rest. It’s only a five hour drive, but Dean agrees with his brother, so he sits on the passenger seat while Cas sits on the backseat.
It’s a quiet drive. They don’t say much. They don’t know what to say yet. It’s been a long year.
By the time they arrive to the bunker, it’s almost night time. The three of them go to the kitchen, feeling hungry and thirsty. There’s plenty of food to cook something, but neither of them feels like cooking, so they end up grabbing some beers, some potato snacks and some fruit, because Sam insists that they need some healthy food. Dean isn’t going to complain.
“So,” Sam starts to say, trying to get rid of the uncomfortable silence. “What comes now?”
Dean keeps his eyes fixed on the label of his beer bottle, scratching it with his nail. “Just monsters, I guess.”
Sam hums in agreement. “Yeah. Just monsters.”
Dean nods and looks at Castiel, whose eyes are also stuck on the label of the beer. He wants to ask him so many things, but he fears the answers.
“Can I stay in the bunker?” Castiel asks, without lifting his eyes.
“Dude,” Dean says, looking at him. “What kind of question is that?”
The ex-angel meets Dean’s eyes, frowning at him. “This is your home. I have to ask for permission to stay.”
This is Castiel’s home, too. At least it feels like that to Dean. It hurts him to know that Cas doesn’t see the bunker as his home.
“You have a bedroom. It’s all yours, buddy. Don’t need to ask for permission,” Dean finally says before taking a long sip of beer.
“Thank you,” Castiel says, nodding his head.
“Now that you’re human,” Sam says, making his characteristic concerned face. “What are you gonna do? Do you have any plans? Do you want to become a hunter?”
Dean looks at Castiel. Cas is now human. He might want to experience human things. He might want to leave the bunker and get himself a house, a job, a partner… He might want to leave and find himself or something like that. It terrifies Dean knowing that Cas might leave soon and won’t come back for a long time or ever. Because there’s nothing that will make Cas come back to the bunker to Dean, right?
“I don’t know,” Castiel answers. “I need to get used to being human. I would like to hunt, but I will have to learn about weapons, and get used to not being as strong as I used to. I’m afraid it will take too much time.”
“We can teach you anything about hunting,” Sam says.
“Yeah,” Dean agrees.
“Thank you, but I don’t want to be a nuisance to neither of you,” Castiel says, ashamed.
“Cas, c’mon, you won’t be a nuisance. Yeah, it’ll take time, because you have to change how you move, how you attack, ‘cause you gotta adapt to not being almost invincible, but we all had to learn. Besides, it’ll be good for us to train a little.”
“Okay,” Castiel whispers.
“Now, your main concern is eating, drinking water, taking showers, and sleeping,” Sam says, with a sympathetic smile. “You’ll figure out the rest.”
“I’ll need clothes, too.”
“I can give you some of my older clothes,” Dean offers, feeling how his cheeks try to blush. Seeing Cas wearing his clothes is something that he has imagined more times than he would like to admit. “Use them until we get you some clothes.”
Castiel nods. “Thank you.”
Dean clinks his bottle against Castiel’s and then he takes another sip.
“I’m going to hit the hay,” Sam announces as he stands up. “I’m exhausted of driving.”
“You only drove for five hours,” Dean protests. “What are you, sixty?”
Sam rolls his eyes. “Shut up, Dean.”
Without saying anything else, Sam walks out of the kitchen, leaving Dean and Castiel alone.
Dean stares at Cas. He looks sad and tired. They all lost Jack, but Cas also lost Heaven and his grace. He is the one who lost the most. Sam and Dean gave up their blood, but they both could get that back.
He hasn’t stopped thinking about Billie’s revelation. Cas made a deal with the Empty. He offered himself to die and he didn’t tell them. For that to happen, Cas had to be happy, which probably wouldn’t have happened, but still, it hurts Dean to know that at any moment, Cas could have been dragged to the Empty.
“You’re still thinking about my deal,” Castiel states, looking at Dean.
“Why did you do it?” Dean asks, more hurt than angry.
“It was the only way to get Jack back.”
“Yeah, you’ve already told me that. I just wanna know why you always have to do something that puts your life at risk.”
“I could ask you the same.”
Dean clenches his jaw and glares him. “I hate you.”
“I know,” Castiel murmurs before drinking his beer.
It hasn’t been a great year for the two of them. Dean was angry at Castiel for hiding them about Jack not being okay. Then Jack killed Mary, and Dean got angry at Cas, because a part of Dean blamed Cas for his mother’s death. Dean was so angry and frustrated and he kept being angry at Cas simply because he could.
Dean pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Cas. I didn’t mean that. I’m just angry and tired, and I— I am such a jerk to you. I’ve been a jerk to you since Mom died and I— I’m so sorry.”
Castiel nods but doesn’t say anything. Dean doesn’t blame him. Cas has been too patient with him, and even though he has snapped at him for putting all the blame on him, he had to deal with so many crap from Dean, and Dean knows that their relationship has been strained because of this past year.
The worst part is that he doesn’t know if they can fix it this time.
“Cas—” Dean tries again, because he has to try. After everything they have been through, after losing too much, they can’t lose each other. Things are broken, and they aren’t going to be easy to fix, but Dean wants to start over. Heaven nor Hell nor Chuck is there to screw them up, so they can start over. He wants to believe that. “Cas, I—” He clears his throat, hoping that Cas will look at him, but the ex-angel keeps his eyes focused on the bottle. “I’m sorry for being such an asshole to you for this whole year. I’m really sorry. I really am.”
“I’m sorry, too,” Castiel says, finally looking at Dean. “For everything.”
Dean sighs and nods.
“I’m going to bed,” Castiel announces as he stands up.
“Come to my bedroom. I’ll let you some pajamas,” Dean says as he stands up as well.
They walk next to each other, without saying a single word. They used to have comfortable silences, but now it feels wrong and Dean hates it.
They reach Dean’s bedroom and Dean steps inside while Castiel leans on the doorframe and waits for Dean to find some old pajamas in his wardrobe.
“Here,” Dean says as he hands Cas his old pajamas. “There’s also a pair of boxers. Wearing dirty underwear sucks.”
“Thank you, Dean. I appreciate it.”
Dean nods. “Do you need anything else?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well, if you need anything, just come here and tell me.”
“Of course.” He tries to give Dean a smile, but it comes out as a sad one. “Goodnight, Dean.”
Castiel turns around and starts walking to his bedroom. Dean watches him leave for a moment before closing his bedroom door.
He presses his back against the door and tilts his head up, taking a deep breath. Things aren’t great in between them, but they have time to fix this. Cas is going to stay in the bunker, so they are going to have time together, which means that they will find some way to fix this whole mess in between them.
Dean closes his eyes and sighs. They can fix this. They can find a way to fix their relationship. Even though it might seem broken, they can put every piece back together.