It had been days since Castiel left the bunker - Dean.
But his presence still lingered.
Dean sees it every day in the way that there’s always a pot of hot coffee on, even though he knows Sam hasn’t left his room, the way that he finds the lights on when he had just turned them on. The clean dishes and the missing things.
Or maybe he doesn’t.
He understands it about as well as Castiel had understood the kryptonite reference all those years ago.
Which makes him insane.
But it doesn’t matter; understand or not… he dare not breathe a word.
Then it would all vanish.
Besides, Sam worries about him enough as it is.
He was no stranger to missing Cass – seeing him when he wasn’t there. He’d done it after Purgatory and he’d soon get over this bout. He just needs to muddle through. Get past the hallucinations and the seeing him when he’s not there and Dean would go back to the normal. But normal was with Cass, he’d been with them for over a decade.
Dean feels his chest constrict as a strip of painkillers appears beside him.
Or maybe… it’s real. He dare not hope.
Now he really – physically – can’t look at Cass.
And as usual, Dean is to blame.
There are still things that he can see though.
The way his secret stash of whiskey went missing, the way Sam complains about the weird nature documentaries on his Netflix profile, the slight ruffle or creaking of the chair next to him at dinner. The way there’s always a Cass sized shape at the end of his bed.
It’s like he’s Scrooge. And the ghost of Angel Past is haunting him.
He should have let Cass know that he was the only thing to ever go right in their lives… his big win when he needed one the most.
And now everything is going to hell. Again.
Lilith is back and the gun is gone. Chuck and Sam have some weird link. He’d never needed Cass more. Not for his powers and not for his connections. Dean just wants to know where he is, that he isn’t dead somewhere.
He thinks back to the first time they’d met. Not the barn, but in hell.
He’d looked on as Cass and the other angels tried to get to him. He saw the others get closer and closer only to fail. Sometimes he flung them away, other times the demons did it for him. He was feral when the bloodlust hit. It had taken him months to fully remember the rescue; his mind was unable to comprehend the angel’s true forms. He’d knocked Cass away too. Time and time again. But he had always managed to claw closer and closer. When he touched Dean’s shoulder for the first time he’d felt himself freeze. The haze cleared and he felt the taint slowly being stripped from his soul. He remembers Cass’ grace swirling around his soul, healing the damage and soothing him, stripping away years of torment. Castiel’s grace had been the most outstanding of all the angels, he remembers Michael’s too who was the one meant to reach him first, he’d knocked him away without a thought.
Cass had screamed at him then, his name and other letters. And Dean had fallen into a different kind of trance, one where he was at peace.
He presses his fingers into his eyes trying to push away the unwanted images.
“Oh my God, Dean!” Sam shouts, jarring him from his thoughts, “Don’t move! The painkillers are floating! Grab some iron, I’ll get the salt!”
Sam screams at him to get moving, but Dean just sits there in a trance.
“You can see that?” he asks softly.
Sam hauls him away from the table and Dean just stares as the pack falls flat.
“I don’t understand how a ghost got in here.” Sam sounds exasperated, “I thought they all got sucked into hell. Dean? Say something!”
“There’s a ghost.” Sam huffs, “That’s why my Netflix account is acting up and why our things are going missing.”
Dean clears his throat, trying to force the words out. He thought he had been hallucinating for days, but if Sam can see it too… “It’s not a ghost.” He says slowly.
Barrelling over him completely, Sam starts listing all the possible things it could be and it’s only when Sam is quiet that Dean can find his words, well, one word really. “Cass.”
In a split second Cass appears before them looking as haggard and defeated as he had that night when he had… hadn’t left.
“You stayed.” He breathes.
Castiel remains deadly silent.
“Cass… you heard us right, about Chuck’s plan.” he steps closer, “About you never being in it and me and Sam always killing each other.”
He rests his hands on the angel’s shoulders, “I shouldn’t have said what I did – about you being the thing that always goes wrong. Cass,” he grips his hands tightly, “You are the only thing that ever goes right.”
“Dean.” Cass’ eyes shift uncertainly over his face.
“I missed you.” he says, “Please stay and help me fix this – us.” Dean grabs his hands harder, afraid that he might disappear again – for good this time. “Please. I promise it will be different.”
A flicker brightens Cass’ blue eyes, it looked a lot like his grace.
“I won’t go.”
Dean realises that his face is mere millimetres away from Cass and he immediately pulls back, hating himself as the flicker burns out.
But what is he doing?
Why is he still waiting after all these years?
There’s literally nothing holding him back; the universe had never wanted them together but somehow they had managed to resist the universe – change Chuck’s plan.
Dean wraps his arms around his friend, he can’t lose him again, “I love you.” Their lips touch slowly, exploratory. His eyes meet Cass’ and he sees the light flare in them once more.
“Dean… I love you.”