“You know what, Dean, I will let you have Cas back- I’ll do that…” Chuck’s eyes narrowed, “But the empty would notice and your buddy, there- made an impression in the worst way. So, in exchange for him, you just have to get me one of my other Castiels to swap out for yours.”
“Other Castiels? Like from the other dimensions?” Dean questioned, brows furrowed and bristled.
“Yeah, any one will do,” Chuck waved it off like it was nothing.
“So, let me get this straight-” Dean gritted out, and leveled the deity with a murderous glare when he snorted out a laugh.
“Sorry,” Chuck relented, waving him on.
“If I want Cas back, I gotta bring you a replacement,” he finished the statement dryly.
“Exactly,” Chuck clapped, “Quid pro quo!”
“From the dimensions you just wiped out of existence…” Dean pointed out.
“I only wiped them from that moment forward,” Chuck shrugged, “Past is still in the past, you just gotta get there…”
“Deal…” Dean agreed without pause, “But how do I get to them- the… ghost of other dimensions past?”
“I’m sure you and Sam can figure it out.”
“Right,” Dean smirked darkly.
“Good luck, Dean,” and with that, Chuck had vanished.
“Sammy!” the hunter called out as he ran down the hall toward the library, spilling as soon as he rounded the corner and their eyes locked, “We have to open a portal! Summon Rowena, get whoever we need-”
“Dean, what are you talking about?” Sam jumped to his feet, “What’s going on?”
“We have a plan,” Dean added, irritated by having to clarify, “We’re getting Cas out.”
“Slow down, now what happened?” Sam crossed the room to where Dean stood nearer to the entranceway, “I saw you like- an hour ago…”
“I was angry, ok?” Dean started, wincing at the effort it took him to have moments like these, “I prayed to Chuck to bring Cas back…”
“Bring Cas back to what, Dean?” Sam asked incredulously, “What about everyone else? Did you forget about them?”
Dean’s eyes dropped, brows knit tightly together.
“You did, didn’t you?” Sam looked at him practically awestruck.
“I didn’t actually think he would answer!” Dean’s voice burst out, eyes drawing up again, “I was angry and venting, and then he was just there, making me a deal-”
“What’s the deal?” Sam asked with trepidation.
“Go to the past, open a portal to an alternate universe, and get that universe’s Cas to exchange for ours,” he explained, keeping his face as neutral as possible.
“No big deal, should be simple,” Sam quipped, “And let me guess, no instructions on the ‘how-to’ part of this plan, huh?”
“No, that’s on us,” Dean sighed.
“Well, it’s not like I don’t want Cas back, but Dean, this is really kind of a selfish priority considering the state of the world…”
“When is the world not ending?! I mean, I know this is different but goddamnit- we never get to just be selfish and need and I do, I am…” Dean’s frustration mounted and he turned to fling a stack of books from the closest table, “He died not knowing he was important- so yeah, I’m putting him ahead of everything, Sam! The entire world can wait a fucking second as far as I’m concerned!”
“Dean, Cas knew he was important to us…”
“Did he?” Dean’s voice came out hushed and broken.
“What happened when he died?” Sam asked the question that had been so far left unanswered.
“He said some personal things… feelings he had-”
“Feelings for you?” Sam offered softly.
Dean’s eyes just slipped closed and he took in a sharp breath, “You knew.”
“Not really knew, but… yeah,” Sam nodded, “I mean, I have eyes and spent a lot of time around you guys…”
“So I’m just thick, I guess, cause I sure as hell did not know,” Dean shook his head almost bitterly.
“You really didn’t?” Sam asked skeptically, then another question seemed to hit him like a ton of bricks, “What did you say after he told you?”
Dean looked down at his hands as a nauseous feeling he was becoming increasingly more familiar with crept up and threatened to spill a lunch he hadn’t even allowed himself to have.
“Nothing,” he finally admitted, “I said nothing… just stared at him while that thing took him.”
Understanding flooded the younger hunter’s face, and he looked around him to try to mentally sort through the surrounding resources for leads on where to start.
“Okay, Dean,” he paused to reach over and grip Dean’s shoulder, “You work on summoning Rowena… I’m hitting the books… We’ll figure this out.”