Mid-July (maybe, Dean stopped keeping track of the days months ago)
Painstakingly lonely nights found Dean Winchester in Castiel’s cabin and a bottle of whiskey shared between the two of them, so his solitary figure making its way down the dirt paths with a slight limp was not out of the ordinary. What was out of the ordinary was that Castiel did not come to the door after the first knock, or the second, or the third.
Panic swelled in Dean’s chest but he couldn’t trace it back to its origin. There was no reason to be frightened—common logic could find seventeen different explanations for Cas’s tardiness in under two seconds. He could be taking a bath, he could be changing (not that modesty had been a big issue for Cas as of late), he could already be sleeping, he could be with someone. The last one brought a sick taste to his mouth and his stomach gave a jealous tug, not that it was any of his business whether or Cas wanted to fuck someone in his spare time.
He pounded on the door frame again. “Cas, open up!”
As soon as the words left his mouth, slicing harshly through the warm air of the night, the source of his dysphoria struck him. Cas had fallen into the habit of playing the radio or static, which ever struck his fancy, after he’d lost his mojo—said that it was a poor substitute for the constant noise of angel radio, but it was better than nothing. Tonight though, nothing but silence issued from his cabin.
“Dammit Cas! This is your last chance to open his door or I’m going to open it myself!”
He could feel the fear twisting in his stomach, rising up his esophagus, threatening to choke him. He pushed it down with firm resolution. There was no reason—not yet at least.
He didn’t wait more than to two seconds after his warning before taking a step back and kicking the door open, nearly throwing it off its hinges.
The cabin reeked of marijuana and burnt lilac. In the past few months, the scent had become a source of comfort, something he would have never expected.
The ease that was inspired by the scent of Castiel’s living quarters was short-lived though. At the sight of his friend face-down on the floor—didn’t even make it to the mattress two feet away—his panic threatened to consume him. This time he didn’t bother trying to repress it. It was justified.
“Fuck, Cas,” he muttered, not even trying to put a stop to the stream of profanities issuing from his lungs. “Fucking fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Dammit. Fuck.”
Nearly tripping over his own unstable legs, he ran forward and dropped to his knees. “Shit, Cas.”
He dragged Cas’s limp body onto his lap with ease—he couldn’t weigh more than 120 these days, all tanned skin and sharp angles. His fingers frantically ghosted over his neck, desperately searching for a pulse.
Dean felt lightheaded and never craved the numbness of alcohol more than he did now. But he wasn’t going to even risk starting on the chance that he got carried away. Tonight was no night to be lost in a drunken stupor.
The couple from Minnesota that were in the cabin next door had heard Dean yelling and called for Jeremy, the camp’s current medic. He wasn’t sure when his mutters had escalated to shouts but he couldn’t say he wasn’t glad that they did. And he didn’t think he could thank the unknown couple enough either.
They had roused Cas just long enough to force him to throw up what the medic assumed was the majority of the pills. His friend, who resembled a wraith more than a man these days, was set on his mattress, propped up against the wall. Jeremy had said that in that position he was least likely to choke on his own vomit but suggested that someone stay around to watch him, just in case.
Dean was first to volunteer and so, the early hours of some July morning found him idly wandering Cas’s cabin—one eye never leaving his friend.
Castiel was unbelievable. Dean was positive that he would be furious with the angel if he wasn’t still scared. After everything the two of them had gone through—fighting Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory—one would think that something as simple as an accidental overdose wouldn’t be able to come so close to taking Cas’s life.
His hands were still shaking. He couldn’t stop them. Granted, Castiel had died a few times before, but this was different. This time Dean knew that death would be final. It was humans vs. the devil these days. God couldn’t have a hand in this, He was probably long gone. No one would be around to bring Cas back.
He paused in front of the dresser, the first time he’d stopped pacing in the last hour and a half. Something was out of place among the clutter. It took three seconds for the two empty, prescription pill bottles (nicked from some bastard that had probably succumbed to the Croatoan virus ages ago) to catch his eye—both of them opiods, presumably morphine; at the very least Cas would have gone out peacefully. But those were expected, what was unexpected was the off-white envelope wedged between them with his name scrawled out in Cas’s slanted font.
I don’t think that I ever properly thanked you for all you did for me. My brothers and sisters always thought you were my downfall. How wrong they are. You mean so much to me, you always have, and I can never repay you for everything you’ve done. What I’m about to do is
probablythe exact opposite of repayment, I’m sure. I apologize for leaving you now after all we’ve been through, you and I. But I can’t handle it anymore, Dean. I was never cut out for being an angel and, as time has proven, I’m not cut out to be human either. I never deserved the happy ending and—what do you call it?—‘apple-pie life.’ I’ve disobeyed, I’ve taken thousands of innocent lives.
In retrospect, I’ve received more than I deserved. I’ve witnessed beautiful things and I’ve had the pleasure to experience the
companionshipfriendship of you and your brother. But I think the most extraordinary thing was emotion. I was not created to love, Dean, but I did. I was created to be a soldier—obey orders with unwavering obedience and solid conviction in the judgment of my superiors—I was never supposed to have the capacity to experience love.
There’s so much I should have told you. I suppose I never did because I feared lack of reciprocation—a human fault. At the end of it all, I realize that that should not have stopped me. There were so many times when I knew you needed someone to tell you that you were loved but I stopped myself. It was selfish, I know. It should not have mattered whether or not you returned my affections, but, at the time, it mattered to me. Hell, there were even times when I thought you might have felt the same way, but I could never be sure. There were so many obstacles that I don’t think we could have ever been more than dysfunction friends.
There’s so much I should have told you, Dean, but never did. And I’m sorry for doing it now. But, Dean, I need you too.
I don’t think that anyone in the whole of human kind has ever needed someone as much as I’ve needed you.I should have said it then, on that riverbank in Purgatory, but I was caught off guard. I was never really wanted around—a colossal, angelic fuck-up—and the idea of someone needing me was ludicrous and unreasonable. I didn’t think that you meant it then, something that you’d just said in the heat of the moment, but upon reflection, I realized that you did. I still don’t understand why you meant it or why someone would want—let alone need—someone like me around. I’m sorry thatWhat I’m actually trying to say is that I love you, Dean Winchester. I’ve loved you since the moment I pulled your beautiful soul out of Hell. I’m sorry for telling you all of this now and I hope it does not taint your memories of our friendship.
I’m also sorry for leaving now and in this manner. But I’m not much use here, we both know it. Everyone knows it. I’m dead weight. A junkie. A sex-addict. A broken angel without his wings. I’ve overheard them talking. Sometimes I overhear you defending me—you shouldn’t, they’re right. I’m not going to save the world, Dean. I’m not going to kill the devil. You are.
I’m sorry that I’m not cut out for this life—or any life, it seems. But I wanted you to know, and I don’t want you to forget, that I love you Dean Winchester, and I always will.
Dean ached. Physically and emotionally. He was absolutely exhausted but adamantly refused to leave Cas’s cabin. Chuck had already offered to relieve him three times, to no avail, and brought two cups of coffee, which were gratefully accepted.
The number on the right end of the analog clock on Cas’s dresser next to the two pill bottles flipped to one the same moment that Cas’s eyes fluttered open. He looked even more drained than Dean felt and his blue eyes looked hollow and sleep-deprived despite the eleven hours of sleep.
The angel stared at a fixed point in front of him, not even bothering to glance around his room, and looked…Dean couldn’t even find the words to describe Cas’s expression if he tried. Disappointed. Devastated. Beaten. None of the words could encompass the emotions that Dean was privy to.
“Fuck, Cas.” His voice was rough and scratchy, due to his lack of hydration and silent vigil, and broke on his Cas’s name.
His friend jumped, just noticing that he wasn’t alone in the room. “Dean.”
Fuck, fuck, fuck. Just the way Cas murmured his name dredged up roughly a thousand memories of the angel silently materializing behind him. At the time, he’d whined about his personal space but he really didn’t mind. He still didn’t mind. He was and always had been starved for the physical intimacy that one-night flings couldn’t fulfil. The intimacy that was provided by family or friends, or dare he say, lovers. He had thought about a lot of things while Cas was passed out but he hadn’t taken into consideration that he would never hear Cas say his name again.
“I fucking swear to—“
“Dean, I thought we spoke about blaspheme.”
The son of a bitch actually had the nerve to bring up Dean’s language at a time like this. Nonetheless, he pressed on but respected Cas’s wishes. “I fucking swear that if you ever scare me like that ever fucking again I will kill you myself.”
He ducked his dark hard and muttered something that sounded far too close to, “At least you could probably do the job right.”
“What the hell were you thinking man?”
Cas looked up, his blue eyes flickering from Dean’s to the note in his hand and back up again. “I think it’s safe to assume that you already know what I was thinking.”
“You cock. You arrogant dick. I didn’t say that—”
He paused and took a deep breath, dragging his left hand down his face.
“I say what I mean Cas.”
When he opened his eyes again, his friend was still slouched against the wall. Deflated. Hollow. Without thinking Dean moved forward and slid down onto the old mattress to sit next to him.
“I wasn’t just throwing words around. I meant it—still mean it, Cas. I need you.”
Cas didn’t reply. He was staring straight forward; Dean knew he could his voice, but he didn’t seem to acknowledge his voice.
“Cas, look at me, please,” his voice broke again, on the last word. He hated it. He could almost hear his father chastising him for being so vulnerable. But now was not the time to think of John Winchester. He’d spent the better part of thirty-five years following his father’s counsel and it had got him absolutely nowhere. He knew now that being vulnerable and emotional wasn’t always a bad thing, maybe if he’d been a little more open last night would not have happened in the first place.
Cas’s head moved slightly so he could meet Dean’s eyes again. “What the fuck were you thinking? How is that fair to any of us—how is that fair to me, Cas?”
He hesitated before answering. “The universe does not revolve around you, Dean Winchester. You will not always get what you want.”
“Well that’s pretty fucking obvious, Cas. I would hope that you would give my intelligence enough credit by now—“ Cas opened his mouth, most likely to apologize, but Dean pressed on, “I know damn well that the universe doesn’t cater to me. Do you think we—do you think any of us would be here right now if I got what I wanted all the time. Do you think that the devil would be using my brother as a meat suit? Do you think that the majority of the world’s population would be dead? Do you think that the apocalypse would have even started? The universe most definitely doesn’t cater to my wishes but that doesn’t mean that I’m not selfish. I am. I am horribly, horribly selfish. So, please, Cas…just give me this one thing. Don’t take my best friend away from me. You’re all I’ve got these days.
“I need you.”
Neither of them spoke for two minutes, though it felt like a thousand to Dean. The silence threatened to suffocate him.
“I’m sorry, Dean,” he murmured at last, hardly audible.
“Me too, Cas.”
They were silent again.
“Cas, about your letter—”
“I apologize, Dean.” Castiel cut him off. “I’m sorry if it has made you uncomfortable. We don’t have to speak of it.”
“No, I want to. You said a lot—almost everything—that I should have said a long, long time ago,” he glanced out of the corner of his eye briefly. Castiel was looking up at him; encompassing blue eyes, unshaven cheeks, lips parted slightly. “I think we’ve been playing this game of chicken, or whatever you want to call it, for too long. I should have told you that I….I should have told you something but I never did, I was—” He looked down at the letter in his hands, the edges were already soft from having been rubbed between his fingers so much—nervous habit. I was scared to disappoint a father that hasn’t been alive for years and absent for a long time before that. “It doesn’t even matter. I was scared. But I should have said—I should have told you that I—”
He broke off again. Three stupid words, Winchester. But it wasn’t that easy. Three stupid words that mean the world. It’s easy to say them when they don’t mean anything. But, admitting it out loud, when the weight of the universe seems to rest in the three syllables, is so much harder.
“I love you too, Cas.”
He looked down at the angel. Eyes still wide, mouth still agape. He still looked desolate and empty but Dean knew that an overdue admission of love wasn’t going to fix Cas but Dean needed him to hear them.
Without pausing to think, knowing that he would back down and regret it later if he did, Dean leaned down slightly and pressed his lips to the angel’s, cutting him off. His lips were chapped and his mouth was warm, the kiss tasted like scotch and vomit but Dean couldn’t imagine anything better. He’d kissed his fair share of people in his life, men and women, but none of them were ever Cas.
He pulled back from what was possibly the most chaste kiss of his life. He would like to believe that he’d been in love before, but he couldn’t think of anyone that made him feel the way Castiel did. And maybe each time you fall in love it’s different; after all, he had loved Cassy and he had loved Lisa, but he didn’t feel exactly the same about either of them.
But Castiel—Angel of the Lord, wavelength of celestial intent, size of the Chrysler building—had somehow weaved his way into Dean’s life in the most unexpected way possible. And even now, though he was a far cry from the creature that had burst into that barn on a September night with sparks flying and lightning flashing, he was still magnificent. And maybe that was the explanation. There had never been, nor would there ever be, someone as grandiose as Cas and a love for him would have to feel just as exceptional.
Things weren’t perfect. They never would be. But, to Dean, after what life had become, this felt like a small piece of heaven that had found its way down to Earth.
He hadn’t been in his own cabin in months. In fact, he was pretty sure that it had other occupants by now as it was obvious that he wasn’t moving back into it. It had taken a matter of days for his few possessions to make their way into the empty nooks of Castiel’s one-room abode and he hadn’t returned to his own since then.
Lucifer was still out there and the Croatoan virus was still steadily taking over more of the population that was unaware and unprepared. There were still monsters and demons and things that go bump in the night but Dean fell asleep with his arms around Cas and every morning did his best to kiss the sadness away. These day he figured that this was as good as things got and he would take it a thousand times over.