“Talk to me. Are you sure about this? I mean, it's one thing me and Sammy slamming the gates to the pit, but you - you're - you're boarding up Heaven, and you're locking the door behind you.”
Every molecule in his being is screaming in torment. Cas is going to leave him, permanently. Dean knows it’s the right thing to do. The angels, just like the demons, have terrorized earth with God gone. Sealing them away to exist solely in heaven is logical. Angels in heaven, humans on earth, demons in hell. But one angel doesn’t belong.
“Yeah. I know.” He’d hoped for a more heartfelt response. Even for Cas, that answer was lacking. Cas won't look at him though, his eyes flicking across the bottles behind the bar. The absence of direct contact is unnerving; it tells Dean there's more to Cas's story than he says, so he probes for it.
“You did a lot of damage up there, man. You think they're just gonna let that slide?”
In reality, he doesn’t want to know Cas’s answer to this question, but he can’t bring himself to ask what he wants. Why does Cas have to do this? Why does Cas want to do this? Does Cas even recognize he’s leaving Dean behind? Does he care?
“Do you mean do I think they'll kill me? Yeah, they might.”
The answer sours the beer on Dean’s tongue and his stomach churns angrily. Cas speaks about his life with such disregard. How long has he lived merely in preparation to die? Will it matter if Cas dies if Dean knows he'll never see him again anyway? If a tree falls in the woods with no one to hear it, does it still make a sound? The world is emptier in Dean’s mind even just thinking of Cas ceasing to exist.
“So this is it? E.T. goes home.” He looks away even as Cas has finally just looked at him, because he can feel his eyes burning and he doesn't want Cas to see his crushing sadness. His delivery fell flat and the joke lands on its face when Cas looks at him in confusion. He would tell the angel they’ll watch it when they get home, but that won’t happen. He’s going home, but Cas isn’t, and there won’t ever be the chance to show Cas all the things he wants him to know. They'll never stay up late watching movies or spend lazy mornings over coffee chatting about whatever new show Cas discovered. Somehow, above all else, that realization is what breaks him open. “Cas, I don’t want this.”
The angel looks over at him in surprise, his beer bottle half pressed to his lips.
"I don't understand. You don't want the angels gone from earth?"
Dean bites his bottom lip tight in frustration as he fights rolling his eyes.
"No, dumbass. I don't want you gone from earth and I don't like how cool you're being about it."
"How am I supposed to be about it, Dean? Huh?"
They're facing each other directly now, only inches apart and voices low and gruff so they aren't overheard. Dean can smell the beer on Cas's breath. He can see the dark blue rings surrounding the ice blue of his irises. His pupils are blown in the dim light of the bar.
"I want to know that you care! I want to know that it's hard for you to leave m-us."
Cas pulls away from him, his brows furrowed and nostrils flared in anger.
"What would be the point of that? What would it accomplish?"
Drawing a deep breath in and setting his jaw in determination, Dean answers honestly. "I want to know I'm not the only one in pain! I want to know that when I go home alone after all this, I'm not the only one feeling the loss here."
"What do you think the last five years have been for me, Dean? Do you think you mean nothing to me Dean?"
"Well you're sure acting like I don't!"
"And what good would that do? Telling you how much you mean to me. Would it make it easier for you to go home alone if I told you I wish my time on earth with you would never end? Would it make you feel better if I lied and said the angels will welcome me back and I'll be just fine?"
Cas's breath comes fiercely as his diatribe comes to an end and Dean stares at him while he processes what he'd said. They've turned toward one another as they tend to do, drawn together by magnets, and their knees are slotted together. Dean looks down at where they're touching, wondering how they can fit so well and still repeatedly be pulled apart so easily. Dark spots spread across his lap and he realizes he's crying.
"Why does this always happen to us?" His voice is thick as he tries to speak around his tears.
Cas's thumb brushes the tears away gently.
"I don't know, Dean. You are the best thing that's happened to me. Whatever does happen next, you'll go on knowing that."
Dean looks up from his lap in time to see the brief quiver of Cas's lip before he sets it in finality.
"I have to finish this now."
And that was it.