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A/N: Hello, dear readers! It's Thecouchcarrot, your old pal! Didja miss me?

Anybody?

Anybody?

Bueller?

...

Well, anyway, it's been a long time. I wanted to stretch my writing muscles once again, so I wrote this little post-season 9 oneshot. It's been approximately two bajillion years since I wrote anything in the canon universe, so hopefully you like it! It only has the merest suggestion of Dean/Cas, but it's sort of my attempt at capturing how the dynamic between them has changed, and a little bit of what I imagine Dean might be like now. Going in, just assume that Cas has been informed about The Big Change but has not actually had a chance to talk with Dean about it yet.

As always, I treasure and crave reviews. Especially now, since I've been off the airwaves for so long and I'm preeeetty sure most of my readership has passed away from old age by now. If you review, I will send you your very own, one of a kind, absolutely versatile Bad Decisions Castiel (TM)! He means so well - and does so bad! Now you can console Bad Decisions Castiel in the privacy of your very own home! You can: make cookies together! Snuggle! Iceskate! Dance! Stare into the lapping grey waves of the ocean of moral ambiguity he has waded into and delude yourself into believing he can escape the dark consuming riptide that will surely drown him! All these things AND MORE - just review today!

Thanks, and enjoy.

..

..


The summer night is dark and warm; the concrete tenement roof is still giving off heat, stone that has baked too long in the sun. The city is awake, buzzing and zipping, skyscrapers with endless green windows aglow and blinking neon in the distance.

"You couldn't kill me, before," Dean says. He doesn't look at Castiel when he speaks.

Castiel cannot stop staring at him, attempting to comprehend the image and managing to grasp only fragments.

Dean is sitting on the west edge of the rooftop with his legs dangling over. Face turned, hint of a smile on his cheek. Hands on his knees, fingers tapping idly. His back is to Castiel. He stares out over the city. True face twisted and grotesque, howling. Stranger in a strange land. He is silhouetted by the dark sky. Loose shoulders and hands on his knees. Face lit from below by orange streetlights. Screaming black smoke writhing inside. Fingers tapping. Face twisted. Loose shoulders. Stranger. Darkness. Rooftop.

It is not easy for Castiel to get his bearings.

Dean's physical form is unchanged. His true self is corrupted. To Castiel, demons in human bodies have always looked like monsters, and Dean has always looked like… like someone out of a good memory, who in your mind's eye looks better than he ever could have looked in life, but the memory insists yes, he really was this real and beautiful and unbroken. Now the two images are superimposed, flickering back and forth.

"Do you wish you had?" Dean asks. Face turned towards the city.

Castiel blinks. "Do I wish I had what?"

Dean glances back at him. Casual smile. Howling face. Green eyes. Loose shoulders. "Do you wish you had killed me when you had the chance?" He sweeps his hand in a circle toward himself. "Before all this happened?"

Castiel stares at Dean, and considers for a long moment.

Finally he says, "It doesn't matter whether I wish I did it. I couldn't have done it. I could not have killed you."

Dean's smile turns into a smirk. "Aw, c'mon, Cas. Don't sell yourself short. You've killed friends before."

Castiel does not smile.

Dean swings his legs back over the side of the rooftop, stands up, and brushes off the seat of his pants. "So what about now? Do you want to kill me now?"

Castiel takes a step backward and regrets it. He should not be retreating. "I haven't decided."

Dean smirks again, and his eyes turn solid black. "This help?"

Castiel stands silent.

Dean laughs, a clear full-bodied laugh. His black eyes gleam and his shoulders shake. "Cas, I'm a demon now! Grow a pair and just admit it – you want to kill me!"

Castiel hesitates, the words thick behind his teeth. "I think – I think you just want to be killed."

Dean's smile shrinks. "You think I have a death wish?"

Castiel says nothing.

Dean looks around, as though looking for someone else to be standing next to him. He points to his chest. "You think that I have a death wish?"

Castiel doesn't say anything. He doesn't need to.

Dean saunters toward him, slow and deliberate. "Cas, buddy, I can understand why you'd be confused. The old me was… a whiny sack of masochistic shit. Alright?" Half smile. The white edges of his teeth glint in the darkness. "That Dean had a death wish. Right now that Dean would be cryyyying and begging you to eeeend it and all that bullshit." He's close to Castiel now, just a foot away. His smile splits wider at the corners. White teeth. Black eyes. "But I'm a new man. I took a little trip to the other side of death and my emotional baggage got lost en route. When I'm asking you if you want to kill me, it's not 'cause I'm egging you on." The curve on his mouth tightens and his teeth clench. "It's because I'd like to see you try."

Castiel slips his angel sword out of its sheath, grabs Dean, and shoves him up against the door to the rooftop.

Dean grins savagely and fights back.

He's incredibly strong now – stronger than any new demon should be. He lifts Castiel by the lapels and throws him to the ground, slamming his body into the concrete. The mark of Cain has turned him into something more primal and powerful than just a tortured soul. He's a commander of Hell, an unstoppable berserker. Castiel realizes too late that he has made a terrible error in judgment. Before he can even stagger to his feet Dean is upon him, pummeling him, his fists cracking Castiel's ribs and cutting against his teeth, and Castiel can only see the blinding darkness of his roiling soul as he strikes again and again and again.

"Is this what it's like?" Dean snarls, his grin turned into a grimace. Lips curled back. Eyes gleaming black. A blow to Castiel's cheek. Pain knifing through Castiel's skull. "Is this what it's like to be on the other side of the punching bag?" Loud and harsh. Another blow. Fist bloodied. Knuckles raw.

"Dean," Castiel groans.

Dean wraps his hand in the noose of Castiel's necktie and twists it tight, drags him upward so he's on his knees. He laughs. Barking laugh. Shoulders stiff, teeth clenched. "Every time I'm the one broken and bleeding. Getting smashed to a pulp and just taking it. I'm the one who has to suffer and beg.Well, not anymore! Now it's someone else's turn!"

"Please," Castiel begs. Warm blood trickles from his split lip, his eye, his nose. "Dean."

He shakes Castiel violently. "I'm not Dean!" he shouts. Voice hoarse. Breath heavy. Eyes black. Noose tightened. "I'm not me! I'm not me anymore!" Another fist cracks across Castiel's face, splitting the world into flashes of pink and black. Eyes green and glittering. White teeth. Trembling lip. "I'm fucking dead! I'm gone! Don't you get it?"

Castiel blinks through the haze of pain, and stares at him.

In that moment, their eyes lock, and Castiel can see only Dean, the Dean of his memories, strong-jawed and torn and burning and wrenched tight with agony, better and brighter and more real than any Dean that ever was or ever could be, and the memory is so clear and sweet it hurts.

It's all so clear.

"Dean," Castiel rasps. "Please. Listen."

Dean's fist twisted in his tie. Eyes locked with Castiel's.

"Dean."

Green eyes. Fist tight.

Castiel sucks in a breath, and exhales the words. "Go fuck yourself."

Dean stares.

Castiel wheezes a laugh, and chokes on the blood in his mouth. He spits on the rooftop.

Dean scowls furiously and shakes him by the neck. "That's what you have to say?! I'm about to kill you, shitbag!"

The world spins nauseatingly and Castiel's head lolls. "I'm not going to play along in your little psychodrama," he gasps. "You egotistical ass."

Dean squints and tightens his chokehold, squeezing his windpipe tight. "You think this is a game?"

Castiel coughs and painfully grunts out his words. "I think… this… is therapy."

Dean makes a face of disgust and drops him to the ground. "Jesus!"

Castiel chuckles painfully and embraces the warm concrete.

Everything hurts.

The dark city night blinks and clatters around them. The somewhere in the distance a car honks. Castiel lays on the concrete and Dean stands above him, and Castiel understands where and how and who they are right now, and Dean is standing there, and he is Dean.

"You're a demon, Dean," he says. "Get over it."

"Jesus fucking Christ," Dean mutters. He wipes his hand on his jacket. "If I hadn't beat you half to shit, I'd beat you again."

Castiel rolls onto his back, resting his head against the ground. He looks up at the stars. "Why not finish the job?"

Dean puts his hands in his pockets and sighs. "I don't want to actually kill you," he admits. "I like you."

Castiel glares out of his good eye.

"I'm not apologizing," Dean barks. "Do you know how many times you've beat me up? And I don't even have your freakshow angel healing!"

Castiel rests his hand on his stomach and groans. "I only did it when I was being mind controlled." He pauses. "Or when you needed it."

Dean throws his hands up in the air. "Well, you heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen! Castiel T. Angel has unlocked the secret of knowing when to beat the shit out of your friends! Tune in at seven to hear his patented method of driving everyone the fuck away!"

Castiel frowns, then winces at his split eyebrow. "That is not my name."

"Shut up, Cas," Dean sighs. He sits down on the ground next to him and loosens Castiel's tie.

Castiel watches him as his fingers untangle the knot, watches the studied avoidance of his eyes. His demon face screams and thrashes but the real Dean is calm, placid, no hint of his previous fury. He looks tired. Shoulders straight. Lips pressed together.

"You wanted me to beg," Castiel says. His voice feels raw in his throat. "To profess... our history... And everything it should mean to you."

Dean ignores him. He slides the tie from Castiel's neck and loops it around his hand.

Castiel pushes himself up on his elbow and winces. "You still care…" He hesitates on the words. "You care whether or not I still care."

Dean's eyes turn black, and his nostrils flare. He tucks the tie into his jacket pocket. He does not meet Castiel's eyes.

"You're not much of a demon," Castiel says.

"Well, you're not much of an angel," Dean retorts shortly.

Castiel looks away and exhales quietly through his swollen nose.

Dean stands up and offers a hand. Loose shoulders. One eyebrow raised. Face howling. "C'mon. Get up, shortstack."

Castiel grabs his hand and hauls himself to his feet, wobbling and unsteady. "You've broken most of my bones, you know."

Dean rolls his eyes. "That was ten minutes ago. You gonna hold a grudge forever?"

"Probably," Castiel grumbles. "Why did you even call me up here?"

Dean glances around him. "It seemed like an ideal location. Enough space to really tussle, no one else able to see us, far enough into the city that a little hollering wouldn't cause a stir."

"You planned this?" Castiel asks incredulously. "You planned on fighting me?"

Dean shrugs. "Sort of. I figured we'd end up fighting or fucking. 'Rooftop' seemed to accommodate both. Like I said, enough space to really tussle –"

"You – you thought sex was a possibility, Dean?" Castiel sputters angrily. "You just tried to kill me. And we have never – you and I – nothing, nothing in the span of our acquaintance – to think I would – sex, Dean? Are you insane?"

"Jesus Christ," Dean groans. "I told you! I'm a demon. No more masochistic bullshit. I've always been hot for people who can kick my ass, you've always been hot for me, angels and demons, blah blah blah. It's just basic arithmetic."

"I am not – I am not hot for you," Castiel growls.

Dean laughs sharply and puts a hand on his stomach. "Ohhhh, Cas. You're hilarious."

Castiel frowns.

Dean ducks his head and quirks an eyebrow. "Admit it. I'm a sexy motherfucker. You totally wanna bang me."

"I have several fractured ribs, a broken wrist, and lacerations all over my face," Castiel points out coldly. "Thanks to you, I doubt I will be able to do 'banging' of any kind for the next several days."

Dean laughs and throws his head back. "Man, I'm glad I didn't kill you. You're so much fun to screw with." His demon face is dark and writhing and glimmers under his skin.

Castiel looks at him, and again tries to grasp the new reality that has been thrust upon him.

It is Dean standing there on the rooftop. Dean and not-Dean all at once. Shoulders loose and hands at his sides. Teeth grinning in the darkness. Howling. Green eyes. Stranger in a strange land. Face twisted. Black inside. Loose shoulders. Stranger. Darkness. Rooftop.

"What are you going to do now?" Castiel asks.

Dean takes a deep breath and sighs. "I dunno. Light some stuff on fire, probably. Get laid. Convince Sam not to kill me. Steal stuff." He scuffs a boot against the concrete rooftop.

"Choose carefully," Castiel tells him. "You do have choices, Dean."

"I know." Dean raises his eyes and turns them black. "More now than ever." Loose shoulders.

Castiel swallows against the knot in his throat. "You are still you. Stop trying to escape yourself. You were the greatest man I knew."

Dean lowers his eyes and lets them fall shut. "Past tense."

Castiel does not deny it.

He turns away from Dean and prepares to fly away. His wings are bruised, but he will be able to make the flight. He realizes Dean still has his tie and he decides to let Dean keep it.

"Wait!" He hears Dean step towards him. "Before you pull a Batman…"

Castiel turns around.

"You never told me if you wish you'd killed me," Dean says. "Even if you couldn't follow through. Do you wish you had?"

Castiel pauses.

"No," he says.

It is not easy.

He flies away into the night sky; adrift, disoriented, all bearings lost.