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Dawn

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Castiel can’t feel anything except for Dean. Dean’s skin, pressed against every inch of his own. Dean’s mouth, on his chin, on his neck. Dean’s fingers, intertwining with his, pinning his hands against the mattress. Dean, above him, inside of him.

And Castiel can’t taste anything except for Dean. Dean’s lips, Dean’s tongue as it slides through his teeth. Dean’s sweat as it drips down his throat.

And all Castiel can hear, is the sound of Dean breathing, gasping. Dean grunting and moaning. Dean’s voice as it mumbles his name into the air between their bodies.

This isn’t anything like Castiel had imagined it would be. There’s no doubt, no confusion, no hesitancy, shadowing Dean’s face. There’s just Dean, tangled in his legs. Just Dean, between his thighs. There’s just Dean. And there’s nothing in between them, nothing stopping them, from finally having each other, from finally giving in to the unspoken desires, to the accidental touches, to the across-the-room glances filled with need, longing.

No deals, no God.

Nothing stopping Dean from letting, “I love you, Cas. Fuck, I love you,” escape as a whisper as he loses control, as he slips himself out of Castiel, as he lets his mouth graze across Castiel’s body, until he reaches Castiel’s hips.

“You don’t have to.” Castiel’s fingers trail through Dean’s hair.

“I know. But do you want me to?” Dean’s lips barely touch Castiel when he speaks, but it’s enough to make Castiel’s nerves numb, enough to make Castiel feel like he can’t survive another minute, another second, without begging Dean to take him, all of him, in every way possible.

“I do—fuck, of course I do.” Castiel lifts himself off the bed only enough to let Dean slide his hands underneath him, to let Dean surround him as he swallows him down.

Dean’s eyes drift up to Castiel’s in the hazy darkness, refusing to focus on anything else, until Castiel can’t take any of this anymore. And there’s something that overcomes Castiel when he’s done, something he’s never felt before. A feeling of calm, safety, freedom, a feeling that’s maybe inexplicable. “I love you, too.”

Dean’s mouth searches for his, and they kiss, they kiss until Dean pulls away. “So then why did you do it?”

“Why did I do what?” Castiel’s lips reach for Dean’s again, but Dean moves back in silent refusal.

“Why did you do this to me? To us?” Dean rests his palm on Castiel’s shoulder. “You made a stupid fucking deal. You told me the one thing you want, is something you know you couldn’t have. But you didn’t know you already had it. You already had me. And you let me watch you die.”

“Dean—I had to—I saved you.” Castiel tries to move, tries to sit up, but Dean’s grip is urgent, terrified.

“You didn’t save me. You sacrificed us. You sacrificed everything.” Dean pushes Castiel deeper into the bed, into the mattress, as their bodies rest against one another. “This is what we could have had. This is what we could have been. And you realized it, in those final seconds, I know you did.”

“I’m sorry Dean—you said it yourself, Billie was going to kill us both—” Castiel reaches up, wraps his hand around Dean’s arm.

“It would have been better than this.” Dean presses his forehead down onto Castiel’s chest. “It would have been better than a moment of happiness turning into your biggest regret. It would have been better than having this same goddamn dream over and over again, right Cas? It would be better than knowing that you destroyed me.”

And in the blackness of the Empty, Castiel opens his eyes into nothing, into an abyss of oblivion, before he succumbs to his never-ending nightmare once again.

***

The ghosts call out to Dean every night at 3 am. They speak in the echoes of Castiel’s voice, of the Empty oozing from the wall, of the hours Dean spent on the floor, struggling to breathe through hysteria and confusion and shock. And the ghosts cry out to him every night, to find a way, to make this right. To find a way to bring him back.

But Dean has spent six months, thirteen days, seven hours, with unanswered prayers, failed spells. Six months, pacing the Bunker in the middle of the night, trying to think of something, anything. Six months of every godforsaken book he can find. Six months of Rowena’s journals and notes Six months of trying to make deals with crossroads demons who refuse to negotiate.

Six months of telling Sam that everything is fine. Six months of knowing why Castiel didn’t let him speak, didn’t let him confess first, in Purgatory.

Okay, Cas, I need to say something.

You don’t have to say it. I heard your prayer.

No. I have to say it. You need to let me say it. I love you.

And tonight is no different, than all the other nights since it happened. Since the darkness of a world beyond Hell dragged Castiel away. Since Jack became God and stopped listening to Dean, to everyone. Just like every other night since everything fell apart, Dean slides out of his bed, in a room that’s covered in empty bottles and dirty laundry. He changes his clothes, he puts on the jacket, the same jacket he’s worn every day and every night, since he lost Castiel, the jacket still marred by the reddish-brown stain of Castiel’s handprint.

He closes his eyes against Sam’s bedroom door, listens for the sound of silence, of Sam, of Eileen, sleeping. He dumps a can of dog food into a bowl to distract Miracle. He quietly makes his way up the stairs, stairs that he once took two at a time, to a door he once thought he was opening to Castiel, to the place where he was deceived, devastated, by Lucifer. To the place he realized, maybe he was doomed forever, to be alone, to be like this.

At 3 am, on the edges of Lebanon, Kansas, the sky is a shade darker than black, and it’s scarred by scattered stars and streetlamps. And it’s during this darkest hour that Dean drives, every night, to the field he’s been so many times before. To the field where he’d once scattered Castiel’s ashes. To the field where Castiel had been resurrected once before.

But, this time, this death, left Dean with nothing, not a single particle of evidence that Castiel ever existed, except for the bloody handprint Dean wears as a badge of loss, despair, desolation. And all Dean has, is this field, that gave him back what he needed in what feels like another lifetime.

In the middle of this field, under a windmill that’s long been left to decay in the absence of society, Dean has prayed, relentlessly, to a God that never responds. To some ancient void that Dean dreams of slaughtering. To Heaven, to Hell. He’s performed ritual after ritual, spell after spell. And in the middle of this field, Dean has failed over and over.

So he stands, in an inferno of weeds and dandelions, and he lets himself lose his mind.

Cas. Cas. Cas.

He screams it into the thick air, into the blinding emptiness of the universe above him. He screams it into a world he knows isn’t listening, to a world that left him to fend for himself and for his brother, to a world that doesn’t give a shit about Dean Winchester and doesn’t care that everything and anyone he’s ever needed, or wanted, has been ripped away from him forever.

Cas. Cas. Cas.

No answer. There’s never any answer. Because Castiel is dead. All the way dead. Again. Because of him. Again.

Dean drops to his knees, drops into the dirt, and decides to pray to someone else. Someone who might listen, someone who might care. “Amara. I don’t know where you are. But I know you’re somewhere. And I need you to listen to me. I need him back, Amara. You said you could never hurt me. But this—it hurts more than anything.”

He waits, he digs his fingers into the soil, he tears at the Earth that has taken everyone from him. He waits, and with every passing moment, he loses hope. With every passing moment and with every ignored prayer, he loses hope. The hope of bringing Castiel back, the hope of ever escaping this life, the hope of escaping the fate he knows waits for him at the hands of some vampire, some ghoul, something.

“Come on, Amara. I know, you can bring him back. I know, you’re more powerful than all of them, than Chuck, than Jack.” Dean rocks his knees against the ground. “I know, because you and I—we had a connection, once. And I think we still do.”

He leans forward and puts his head down against the ground, buries his face in the tangled grass until he can’t see anything but darkness. “Please,” he says to no one, because he knows there’s no one listening, no one who cares that he’s given everything for everyone since he was four years- old. No one that cares that he deserves this, that he deserves to have Castiel back, more than anything.

In the silence of the night that’s broken only by the occasional sound of faraway tractor-trailers, Dean sits up, turns his face to the sky. “Fuck you, Jack. Fuck you, Amara. And fuck you, Cas, for thinking that you could do this to me, and that I could just go on.”

“And fuck you, Dean, for thinking I’d fail you.” Her voice is low, and she kneels down across from him, stretching her hand over his. “Fuck you, for thinking I can’t feel how broken you are. How you feel like you can’t go on like this much longer. And that I’d just leave you like this.”

Dean turns his eyes up to hers. “Amara, I’ll do anything. Just bring him back. Tell me you can do that. You brought my mom back because you said I needed to see who she really was. And then she died on me again. And Cas convinced me of who I really am. And then he died on me too.”

“I can bring him back.” She lets her fingertip trace over the shape of his knuckles, the veins on the back of his hand. “And I owe you now—because you set me free. Your prayer set me free. From Jack. From Chuck. From being locked inside someone and silenced. And now I can make things right.”

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do to thank you.” Dean exhales, lets himself feel something other than grief, for the first time since that night in the Bunker. “I’ll give you anything.”

“There’s nothing to thank me for.” Amara leans forward, hair falling over her shoulder. “I’m just going to make things the way they should be.”

“What are you talking about?” Out here, in the middle of nowhere, with the Darkness, with Destruction Incarnate, Dean finally feels something close to faith, hope.

“Jack is obsessed with fixing Heaven. Making Heaven right for you, and Sam, and Castiel,” she says. “But you don’t belong there, not now anyway. Not for years. Decades. You belong here. And I’d rather fix Earth.”

“How are you going to fix Earth?” Dean lets her fingers fall away from his.

“I’m going to give you a world without monsters. A world where you, and Sam, and Castiel are free. I’m going to finally give you peace.” And she vanishes, in a cloud of bright light, light that knocks Dean backward, that forces him to shield his eyes, to turn away.

But when it’s over, all Dean can feel, is the hand on his shoulder, the shoulder that had been scarred and branded as Castiel tore him from Hell, the shoulder that Castiel had laid his bloody hand on before he let the shadows engulf him. “Cas?” He tilts his face toward the atmosphere.

“Dean—how?” Castiel tries to pull him up by the stained material on his jacket, but Dean grips the collar of Castiel’s trenchcoat, until their bodies are twisted together. Until Dean kisses Castiel with a restless urgency and refuses to stop, until Castiel’s tongue is in Dean’s mouth, until their hands and thoughts and self-control are lost.

“It doesn’t matter how.” Dean says against Castiel’s still open mouth. “All that matters is you’re back, and that—that I love you, too.”

Castiel kisses him again. “I didn’t know. I thought I was the only one who felt like this, who wanted this.”

“Cas, I tried to tell you. I tried to tell you and you stopped me. You told me you heard my prayer. But I didn’t want to pray anymore. I just wanted to tell you--” Dean rolls his head against the ground. “I just wanted you to know. But you—you stupid bastard with your stupid fucking deal—decided to tell me that I’m not a killer, not a monster. That you love me. And then you let me watch you die to save me. And I’ve felt like I’ve been the one living in a black hole—a void—the fucking dark—ever since.”

“I needed to save you. The world needed me to save you.” Castiel buries his face against Dean’s neck.

“But I needed you.” Dean mumbles into his ear. “I still need you.”

Castiel tilts his face up toward the sky that’s fading to twilight, darkness fading to light, to purple and pink and orange. “Leaving you was my biggest regret. The regret I was going to dream about eternally. But you saved me. You saved me from my own Hell.”