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I'll stop the world

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“It’s fine. Dean, really.” Mary’s face is tightly composed, even though Dean knows she is struggling.

“Mom…” He hates the way his voice sounds, even as he relishes saying the word, forming it in his mouth and having it mean something. It’s not a memory this time.

“Let your friend have shotgun. Really, I want to sit back here.”

Dean sighs. His mother—who is no longer dead, by the way, because the world isn’t crazy enough already—just saved his life and doesn’t even want to sit in the front. “If you’re sure,” he says.

“I’m sure,” Mary replies, climbing into Baby’s back seat. She closes the door behind her, and her face relaxes just the littlest bit. She looks at home there, like it’s the most comfortable place she’s ever been.

Maybe it is.

“Give her time,” Castiel says in an undertone. The angel is leaning against the hood of the Impala, his arms crossed. He looks remarkably human, Dean thinks.

“I know, Cas. I know,” Dean says, even though he doesn’t know. When he came back from Hell, it was different. He’d only been gone a short while, and the world hadn’t changed at all. But for Mary, it was like stepping through a portal into an alien future.

He doesn't know his own mother any more than she knows him.

“Let’s go,” he says instead of what’s on his mind. He figures Cas can read his expressions, his body language, the roughness in his voice. Once upon a time, he would have had to spell it out. But he doesn’t bother to, now, and Castiel nods.

They’re sitting up in front, the road stretching on before them, an endless possibility. Dean glances in the rear view mirror, trying to study his mother’s face, trying to understand a world in the span of a millisecond. She is staring out the window, her face no longer unflappable, but concerned. Sam is somewhere out there, her baby who is no longer a little boy, and she doesn’t know what to do.

Dean looks back at the pavement and realizes that Cas is watching him. The angel reaches for Dean’s right hand resting between them on the worn leather seats, and holds it gently. Fingers are threaded between his, and Dean doesn’t mind. He swallows the lump in his throat and squeezes Cas’s hand. Help me, he thinks. Help me save my brother. And then we’ll go home. All of us.

He hopes Cas can feel it, all of it, in his soul.

Castiel does.