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And They Loved Like Nothing Else

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Chuck now just a memory fading like a bad-blood taste in their mouths, Jack, the new kid-deity on the block, brought everyone back. Everybody. All of the Winchester brother's found family—including Cas.

After things had settled a little, Dean had them pack up a few things, told his brother to do the same, and five of them left the Bunker for the beach. Any beach. Dean climbed in behind the wheel of his Baby and set off driving—himself, Cas (who now sat shotgun), Sam, Eileen and Miracle in the back—and headed south with the sounds of Zepp and laughter blaring out through the Impala's rolled wide-open windows, the smell of asphalt and gasoline and Cas Cas Cas filling her interior.

When they arrived someplace down in The Keys where it was pretty much hot as Hell itself, all were dog-tired and sun-sticky from the journey, yet more alive than they'd ever been.

After their fair share of primal screams of Freedom were released to the wind, boots and socks kicked off, and a few icy beers from the cooler had been clinked and knocked back, Dean wandered off alone toward the ocean.

He'd never seen it up close before. It was vast and daunting and so fucking beautiful.

Reminded him of the first time he ever saw Cas.

Humming a familiar Kansas hit, he went about creating his reciprocation of Cas' last words he'd spoken before saying goodbye, before dying—seeing as Dean hadn't had the chance to give a proper reply. He poured out everything he felt for the now ex-angel, jam-pack sealing it all into each jagged letter he etched into the sand with a stick he'd managed to prize away from Miracle. Wrote it big enough for anyone to see, even the goddamn Goodyear Blimp if it happened to pass overhead.

Cas eventually padded barefoot over to him, the borrowed pair of Dean's old ripped jeans rolled at the ankle; the warm breeze teasing the tufts of dark hair that curled skywards at the ends.

Dean nodded at his work with a weird mixture of pride and nerves.

Cas' dry lips twitched a couple times, his baby-blues toying with Dean's. Then, he held out his hand. When the penny dropped, and Dean's arm stretched out towards Cas', Cas slid something into Dean's palm. It was Cas' grace, swirling but contained inside a glass and metal vile and attached to a thin strip of black leather with a clasp. Dean's mouth opened and closed a few times but he couldn't convince any of the words he had to make a sound. Rolling his eyes, Cas simply took the thing back from him, leaned forwards, and placed the pendant over Dean's head and arranged it around his neck, where it nestled comfortably against Dean's chest. Against his heart—where it would now stay. For good.

Cas was alive. Cas was human. Cas was here, with Dean, where he had always belonged.

Dean's hand now rubbed over the back of his neck, muscle memory, and he gingerly said the words, "I, uh, I mean it, man. I love you back," managing somehow to hold Cas' still somehow celestial gaze. Cas smiled like the sun and Dean pulled him close and held him fiercely and kissed him gently. Then he returned the smile, tenfold. Wrapped in each other, it felt as if they were a star kept in perpetual fucking supernova. And it was so much more than awesome.

"Welcome home, Cas."

Dean and Castiel held hands and continued to smile that way, for the rest of the day

....And, give or take the odd petty spite-spat, pretty much for the rest of their long-ass lives.