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The road so far - Destiel edition

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Hey, this is probably a weird start for a book, but I thought I should introduce myself for the sake of better understanding. My name is Chuck Shurley, also known as God, but… let’s not talk about that. This isn’t about me, it’s about the story I’m about to write, and I hope you will accompany me on this journey through the past of Supernatural, or, to be more precise, through the past of Dean and Castiel.

Supernatural isn’t what I’d call one of my best works, to be completely honest. Seriously, who enjoys reading a depressing story about characters who hate themselves and stumble from one misery to the next, their hopes crushed again and again, countless times. Who would enjoy a story about pain and sadness, tragic deaths and heartbreaking choices the characters are obliged to make, even if it means they’re doing the right thing? Well, I do. It might not be appropriate to say this as the author, but I love my story. And I love my characters.

Writing was hard, sometimes I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and type in the next three words because I was lacking motivation. As a writer, you always try to bring your ideas across, you try to make the reader interested in the story you are telling. However, sometimes it is important for authors to write for themselves. If I don’t feel involved when I flip through the pages, then the reader won’t, either. If I don’t cry about a character’s death, how can I expect the reader to grieve for the loss?

With that being said, I believe I can say that I love my story without sounding too conceited. I adore my characters and the relationships they establish as the chapters come and go, and I also like to read between the lines when it comes to a certain hunter and his angel in a trenchcoat…

Oh, I didn’t mean to write such a long introduction. I should start writing already, shouldn’t I? So… let’s start at the beginning, at their very first encounter.

 

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It all started when Dean got back from hell. He didn’t know how, didn’t know why, but suddenly he was back, climbing out of his grave somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And soon after that he met him. Castiel, angel of the Lord, who slowly became Cas, his best friend (and… maybe even more than that). Also known as Clarence, tree topper, Asstiel (when he screwed up from time to time), dark mysterious Smitey McSmiterton, baby in a trenchcoat (one of Dean’s favorites) and many, many other nicknames he collected over the years.

To be honest, their first encounter didn’t go very well, considering Dean instantly shot him and later stabbed him with a knife before the angel could even introduce himself.  Now, he would look back at that scene with an amused smile, remembering how Cas stood in front of him -without a single scratch on his body- and muttered the words “I’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition.”

When Castiel first declared he was an angel, Dean couldn’t believe it. Sure, the overpowered dude in a trenchcoat was unaffected by all his attacks and knocked Bobby unconscious with two fingers to his forehead, but he didn’t believe in what seemed like some religious nonsense to him. Seconds later, Dean was staring at the shadows of two impressive wings, eyes wide, mouth slightly opened. It just couldn’t be true. It couldn’t. This was a dream, it was fake, he repeated in his head, hoping if he said it often enough, he would be able to convince himself that this was a big fat lie and his world view wasn’t about to be turned upside-down by a man with a crooked tie and messy hair. It didn’t work very well.

“Good things do happen, Dean.”

Dean wanted to believe. He wanted to accept that he was worth saving, that he deserved this miracle, but in his reality, “good things” always came at a price. His life was a bloody mess, had always been one, and would continue to be one until the day he died, fighting to the last breath. In fear of disappointment, Dean didn’t allow himself to hope for positive surprises anymore.

Little did he know that meeting the angel Castiel would turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to the hunter.

 

Dean had to learn to accept that the angel would randomly show up in the Winchesters’ li from now on. Although he seemed to be interested in their everyday struggles, he didn’t get involved at first. The hunter was disappointed, he demanded for the self-proclaimed warrior of god to help them out at least a little bit, but soon he realized that an argument about god’s plan with an actual angel wouldn’t bring him far.

As time went on, Castiel appeared more and more often by his side. Even though he carried out his “mission”, Dean realized that he slowly but steadily developed a more independent way of thinking. Personally, the hunter liked the new version of Cas better, but the angel struggled with the concept of free will.

All his life he had listened to the commands from above, fighting for heaven, killing enemies in his father’s name. Meeting the brothers made Cas aware of feelings he never had before, feelings that started to change the way he saw things. He started to feel responsible for Dean’s safety, he felt happiness and love, sorrow and despair. It was overwhelming for him, Castiel feared making the wrong choice, but one look at Dean convinced him that he found something on earth that was more important than questionable orders from above. At that point, he realized it wasn’t about right or wrong, good or bad. He made his decision, he chose a side.

Dean’s side.

Even if their future looked rather troublesome with the first seal being broken now, he was willing to accompany the hunter and help him where he could.

 

Dean, on the other hand, wasn’t all that optimistic. He was supposed to be the only one who could stop Lucifer from returning and bringing chaos and destruction upon the world? Son of a bitch, in this case, the world was screwed. He found himself starting to pray for Castiel to help him -something he never thought he would do- and usually the angel appeared with the soft noise of fluttering wings and a serious “Hello Dean”. Although he would never admit it, Dean enjoyed Castiel’s company, especially since he started to get into fights with Sam more often because of a certain demon called Ruby.

Once Cas even visited Dean in his dreams. It was so peaceful back there, no monsters, no responsibilities, no end of the world. Only him and Cas, side by side, gazing off into the distance. It was only a short moment, but it was a beautiful one. The angel appeared, they exchanged a few words and then he was gone again, leaving only a piece of paper with an address on it.

What followed afterwards wasn’t nearly as relaxing as his dream: when Sam and Dean were searching for Castiel, they only found his exhausted and annoyed vessel Jimmy who had had enough of being possessed by an angel and wanted to return to his family. Well, long story short, it ended in fighting demons and protecting Jimmy’s wife and daughter from being killed. They were glad Castiel had finally come back to help them out, but he was… different. He acted cold and distant towards Dean, like on his first day on earth, just as if nothing had happened, in fact even a bit angrier.

“I serve heaven. I don’t serve man. And I certainly don’t serve you.”

Those were the harsh words that broke Dean’s heart. Seriously? After all they had been through together? Dean could have sworn Castiel had decided to be on his side at all costs. What changed his mind? What did he do to deserve to be treated like this- had he done something wrong? Cas was acting as if it had been his fault, as if he was the one to blame, but he couldn’t think of anything he did to piss Castiel off like that. Still, Dean was secretly blaming himself for the current circumstances and waited patiently for this “mission” Cas told him about.

Again, the hunter felt betrayed when he got kidnapped and informed that he should kill Lucifer after the fallen angel would be set free. With Sam gone god-knows-where and the final seal about to be broken, it was no relief that Castiel wouldn’t let Dean get through to his brother. Despite the attempt of an apology, Dean was too angry to listen to what Cas had to say. The hunter could beg and plead, try to explain the importance of saving the lives of many innocent people, but Cas only shook his head.

“We’re done” the Winchester spat out, walking away, not wanting to look into those blue eyes anymore. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to contain himself if he did.   

“We’re done.”

It was deadly silent in the room and when Dean turned around, Cas was gone. He let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and bit his lip. Good. That was good. Then again, if it really was, why did he feel so sad and lonely all of a sudden? Dean brushed it off, ignoring the voice in his head that told him to call Cas back and apologize, because this was the last thing he wanted to do.

 

Dean wasn’t sure what convinced his friend to help him escape in the end, but he was more than happy as they took off together. At last, the angel really was on his side and Dean couldn’t help but feel a bit proud of Castiel. He could still count on his angel when it mattered. Cas agreed to stop the archangels and buy him some time while Dean went to see his brother, hoping he would still make it in time.

But it was too late, the final seal was broken.

Lucifer was free.

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Lucifer was free and Castiel was gone. Dean was devastated, he couldn’t believe that Cas sacrificed himself in vain, or rather because he hadn’t fixed things in time. Under normal circumstances, he would have grieved for days and drowned himself in alcohol and guilt, but the hunter couldn’t afford to do that, given the situation they were in.

There was still a tiny chance that the angel was still alive…right? He had to be alive. Chuck told them otherwise, but Dean refused to believe it, he refused to accept that Cas had been torn to shreds by the archangels, even though it was presumably the case. Cas was not dead.

“Good things do happen”, right? That’s what the angel said himself.

 

And so, it happened. Castiel suddenly appeared out of nowhere and saved the Winchester brothers from Zachariah. It turned out that he really had been dead, but somehow, he made it back- Dean didn’t even care how he managed to return, all that counted was that he had his angel back by his side. Coming back from the dead seemed to be a Winchester tradition after all, so Castiel fit right into their broken little family.

Because of that it was all the sadder Cas decided to leave soon after, wanting to search for God who should stop Lucifer and the apocalypse. His father had to be somewhere out there, not in heaven but on earth, and the angel decided it was finally time for dad to come out of hiding to save his creation. Although Dean questioned God’s existence, he reluctantly handed over his amulet that was supposed to be some kind of “God-finder”, knowing he could trust Castiel not to lose it.

 

It wasn’t long until the angel returned and almost scared Dean to death when the hunter suddenly saw his friend appear right behind him through the motel bathroom mirror. “Don’t do that” he scolded, but Cas simply replied with his iconic “Hello Dean” like he always did-as if it was the most normal thing in the world to randomly manifest out of nowhere and startle the poor man.

The hunter turned around and stared at Castiel for a few seconds until he began to remind him of their agreement. “Cas. We’ve talked about this.” His voice sounded weird, he subconsciously swallowed before he continued, eyes still fixed on the angel who was still standing way too close. Not that Dean minded, actually…

“Personal space?”

“My apologies.”

Cas stepped away, Dean resisted the urge to pull him close again, instead he reached out to grab his jacket from the counter so that his hands wouldn’t become independent and bury themselves in the trenchcoat without his permission. There were more important things to discuss right now, like Castiel’s brilliant idea to search for Raphael, the archangel who killed him before, to gain information about God. Dean wasn’t fond of the idea, not one bit, as said angel would most likely try to murder him again, but with Cas pleading for his help and saying he was the only one he could count on, who was he to refuse. The hunter couldn’t believe it, he would work on a case with an angel of the Lord. This would be fun.

All too soon he realized it wasn’t fun at all. Even though he had to admit that Cas was kind of cute, standing there at the police department with his fake FBI badge, it was rather inconvenient that he held it the wrong way around. Dean should have gone alone, but here he was, trying to tell Castiel to shut the hell up just by the pissed look on his face, and let him talk so they wouldn’t be declared as maniacs.

 

When Dean asked Cas what he wanted to do on his last night on earth, he didn’t expect questioning the angel if he had ever been with a woman before. Judging by his adorably nervous behaviour, Castiel obviously hadn’t, what filled the hunter with… amusement? Pity? Maybe a mix of both, but what surprised him even more was that he had managed to make the usually deadpanned angel act all flustered, even if it was only for a moment.

Not long after that, he got to see the nervous expression on Castiel’s face again when he introduced him to a young lady called Chastity. Man, he really seemed to be shy when it came to women. Dean couldn’t say with certainty why he was glad that Cas messed things up before anything serious could happen, but he was relieved in some way when he guided his friend out of the club, struggling to breathe as he tried to control his laughter. It wasn’t right, he told himself, to let an angel lose his virginity with a cheap hooker. Cas deserved better. Period.

 

Raphael was frightening. Not that he looked more intimidating than other people, but Dean felt the archangel’s power tingle in the air, he heard the distant thunder when he opened his mouth to speak, and it scared him. Of course, he wouldn’t let his fear show, tried to cover it up and act cool like he always did in situations like these, however, he was exceptionally glad that Cas was by his side. This appreciation intensified even more while Cas instinctively pulled him down and shielded him from glass splinters that were flying through the room. Without the angel’s reflexes, there would have been some nasty cuts all over his face. Their interrogation was over, he realized, it was time to disappear.

“Maybe one day. But today, you’re my little bitch.” The words left Castiel’s mouth without a second of hesitation, causing Deans lips to form a proud little smile as he followed, leaving a furious archangel behind. He should fear for the consequences- Raphael swore he would find them and get revenge- but to be honest, he couldn’t care less.

 

The car ride back to the motel was uncomfortable, to say the least. Castiel was upset about the message of his father’s absence and Dean tried his very best to comfort him, but it didn’t quite work out. Cas accidentally mentioned Sam who had quit his hunter life, and from this point on, it all went downhill.

“But now that I’m alone… hell I’m happy” Dean announced without a second thought, feeling proud of his newly gained independence. When he turned around, Cas was gone. Well Shit. He shouldn’t have said those things, he didn’t want the angel to disappear and leave him all alone! The hunter should really learn to think before he opened his mouth.

 

As Dean went to sleep that night, he woke up in 2014, realizing that the world around him had been almost completely destroyed. He met his future self who later turned out to be a total douchebag in his opinion, but what was more important to him was that Cas was some sort of high and drunk hippie who performed orgies in his free time. Dean couldn’t believe his eyes and when he finally returned to reality and saw Castiel -the real Cas, his slightly awkward friend with the trenchcoat and the serious frown on his face- he could have kissed him. Even though he didn’t like what their future had to offer, he’d rather stay here with Cas instead of letting Michael take over.

“Don’t ever change.”

 

Dean almost had the impression that he had his personal guardian angel by his side- Castiel was with him whenever he could. Whether in rather humorous situations like in TV land or when the world was about to end and Lucifer was summoning Death, Cas was there and doing his best to help the Winchesters. He travelled trough time with the brothers and made sure they got back safely, even if it meant that he would use up all his power to send them to their normal lives again. When Sam and Dean died, he was there to guide them through heaven. Cas was there, he was always there to save his ass, and looking back at it now, Dean noticed that he couldn’t thank his friend enough for doing everything in his power to make his troublesome life somewhat easier.

It was heartbreaking to see Cas so upset about the fact that God had abandoned them all, cursing his own father, but Dean understood how the angel felt. The hunter could relate when it came to the topic of family issues, so he knew what Castiel was going through. Things got more and more complicated lately and Dean couldn’t see any other way out than saying “yes” to Michael after all.

Again, it was Cas who pulled him back to his feet… or rather knocked him off his feet by punching him in a dark alley, telling him he gave up everything for the hunter, what, he had to admit it, was the truth. It hurt, both physically and emotionally, to see Cas disappointed in him, he felt guilty, he even asked for Castiel to kill him. But his angel didn’t comply.

 

Even without his angelic powers, being basically human now, Castiel managed to save Sam and Dean from Pestilence. Dean was more than impressed, given the fact that Cas had been in a hospital a day before. However, in the end, it wasn’t enough. He had to watch as Sam pulled Adam into the cage with him, he had to watch his brother Sam sacrifice himself for the sake of humanity, he had to watch Bobby being killed, he had to watch Adam as he killed Cas in front of his eyes, and he couldn’t do a thing. He felt helpless and lost, sitting there with nothing but pain and regret.

Suddenly, Castiel was right next to him, looking down at him and with a light touch to his forehead, all his injuries were gone. The hunter swore he had never been this happy to see Cas who went over towards Bobby and revived him. They drove off together, and even if Dean was a little bit less sad than before, his brother’s death seemed unforgivable. He hated Lucifer, he hated God, he hated the whole damn world. He hated himself. Castiel tried to convince him that things could have turned out even worse, but to no avail.

“What would you rather have? Peace or freedom?”

And with that, the angel vanished.

 

“You really suck at goodbyes, you know that?”

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It was a year since Sam and Adam disappeared, sealing up Michael and Lucifer in the cage while sacrificing themselves. Dean spent the time with his new-found family consisting of Lisa and Ben, he hadn’t seen Cas ever since he disappeared on him in the car. Even though there were lots of new experiences fort the hunter, he couldn’t quite forget the angel’s last words that always kept reminding him of what he had lost. More than once he found himself wondering about what had happened to his friend who returned to heaven in order to take care of the chaotic situation there after the apocalypse had been avoided.

However, since Sam mysteriously returned from the cage, Dean’s new life, as beautiful as it was, slowly became the illusion it used to be, the fairy tale he always dreamed about. Hunters weren’t able to have something called a “normal life”, it just wasn’t possible. Dean knew that, and as much as it hurt him to say goodbye, he knew it was his destiny, his curse, to keep hunting with his brother, simply because he had no other choice. There were still people out there he had to save, and as long as the world wasn’t a peaceful place without demons, angels and other creatures threatening humanity, there was work for him to do.

 

It wasn’t long until they found themselves a case that was too much to handle alone. Usually Cas would help in these situations, but Sam warned Dean not to get his hopes up, as the angel always ignored the younger Winchesters’ prayers. He still wanted to try. Because, well… just because. Secretly, he just wanted to see Castiel again, he had missed him and was also slightly worried about his well-being, although he would never admit that in front of Sam.

“Come on Cas, don’t be a dick.” Dean had to admit it wasn’t really a prayer and definitely not the most appropriate way to call an angel of the Lord, but he couldn’t care less. “Do you… do you copy?”

Sam looked at him in amusement from across the room, obviously making fun of his praying skills and gave him his best “look-I-told-you”-face.

“Son of a bitch doesn’t answer.”

 

Dean’s eyes widened, he froze while Sam’s broad smile began to fade, a rather nervous expression on his face, as he whispered, “he’s right behind me, isn’t he?” and slowly turned around.

“Hello” came the monotone reply. Castiel looked just like Dean remembered him; ridiculous yet adorable trenchcoat, crooked tie, blue eyes you shouldn’t look into unless you wanted to drown in the deep color… and the deadpanned expression on his face that caused the hunter’s lips to form a noticeable smirk.

Sam complained about the fact that he didn’t show sooner when he called, when he was in trouble, whereas all it took was for Dean to open his mouth to call the angel back to earth. “So…what, you like him better or something?”, the younger brother joked, clearly not expecting for Castiel to confirm this statement.

“Dean and I do share a more profound bond. I wasn’t gonna mention it.”

It’s not like Dean was particularly surprised by the answer, but it still caught him off guard. He concealed his happiness by informing Cas about the case they were working on, which seemed to be far more important than estimated. It appeared that heaven was a mess since the apocalypse had been prevented and Raphael was now attempting to rule over the angels. Castiel, who tried to avert this, was ashamed of his brothers, his family. In his opinion, angels were supposed to watch over God’s creation, not to fight over power and start a family crisis while he was gone.

 

Despite his own problems with Sam’s unusual behaviour since the younger Winchester got back from hell, he agreed to help Cas wherever he could, no questions asked. And he meant it. If Castiel was in trouble, he would always help him out. Cas was family, and that meant he was ready to give his life for the angel if necessary.

In contrast, Sam was rather mean to Cas, saying he wouldn’t care about the current state heaven was in. Cas was hurt, without a doubt, but considering that the Winchester lost his soul in hell, he didn’t think much of it. According to his assumption, Sam was better off without it anyway. His soul was damaged, it contained all his painful memories from the cage, so there was no telling what it would do to him if he got it back. There was a small chance of curing him though, and Dean was ready to take the risk of failing as long as his brother would stop being an emotionless idiot who hurt everybody he talked to.

Dean didn’t know where to start when it came to solving his problems. Sam was soulless, there was a civil war in heaven and in addition to that, the demon Meg was obviously trying to seduce his angel. He kissed her, for God’s sake, and although she helped them to interrogate Crowley, he was more than happy when she vanished. She was evil, without a doubt, so it was only natural that Dean didn’t trust her… right? At least this was the reason he gave himself for hating her so much.

 

Sam finally got his soul back and, to Castiel’s surprise, he seemed to be fine, even if he felt guilty because of the things his soulless self had said and done. Meanwhile, Dean couldn’t help but notice that something about his angel friend seemed different. At first, he thought that Cas was just exhausted due to the circumstances in heaven, over the past weeks he got attacked by a few angels after all, so Dean suspected that Castiel simply didn’t tell him about it because it would mean putting the hunter in danger as well.

Still, he was worried. The angel looked worn out, his thoughts seemed to be somewhere else, so Dean could only hope that his friend would open up to him and tell him what was wrong at some point in the future. Couldn’t Cas see how much he meant to him? How much he made him worry?

 

Castiel’s questionable cooperation with the angel Balthazar made him even more suspicious. Cas’ “old friend” didn’t look very trustworthy to the hunter from the beginning, he was more focussed on achieving his own plans and didn’t hesitate to send the Winchesters to a parallel universe or to mess with the personification of fate (he failed miserably at that, but still). Dean couldn’t understand why Cas was playing along with his shenanigans. Certainly not because that God-awful Celine Dion song made him want to smite himself as well.

But that affair only appeared to be the tip of the iceberg. According to rumours, Crowley, who should have been killed by Cas by burning his bones, was still alive and planning to open a gate to purgatory. Bobby remarked that the angel usually wouldn’t make a mistake like this and let the enemy escape, intensifying the bad feeling Dean couldn’t get rid of. He didn’t let it show though, repeating once again what he hoped was the truth: they could trust Cas, he was on their side. They kept their distance to the angel anyway, trying to gather as much information about Crowley as possible, just to be on the safe side.

 

When Bobby, Sam and Dean were rescued by Cas as they were attacked by demons, Dean felt awfully guilty. He should never have doubted Cas’ loyalty in the first place, from now on they would work together to clear up this misunderstanding. Castiel forgave him almost instantly, maybe a bit too quickly, and assured them they could “put away the kryptonite”. He wasn’t “Superman going to the dark side”.

And that was where he screwed up without even noticing his mistake. He couldn’t have known about those terms if he hadn’t been watching their discussions in secret. Everything broke down in a matter of seconds. It was hard for Dean not to lose it in front of the angel, not to show his anger, or his frustration, or any of the other at least twenty emotions that he felt at this moment. Cas betrayed them. Castiel lied to them, he had been working with Crowley after all, hell, Cas had been spying on them!

Indeed, Superman had gone to the dark side.

 

Trapping the clueless traitor in a circle of holy oil wasn’t complicated but looking him into the eyes as he confessed his guilt was. He did it for heaven, he did it to conquer Raphael, he did it for them. Dean had enough of the excuses. “How could he” was the only clear thought running through his head. How could he work with Crowley, their enemy? How could he spy on them on his behalf?

How could he betray Dean, the human he raised from perdition, the one he shared a so-called “profound bond” with?

To be honest, Dean didn’t want to hear him say sorry. He didn’t want an apology or a hug. What he wanted right now was to understand the angel’s reasons, what persuaded him to make this decision. What was his goal? Was it worth betraying his family?

Dean wanted to get answers for all these questions from Cas, but Crowley’s demons interrupted their Interrogation, forcing them to retreat and leave the angel in his trap. It was Crowley who set him free, but Cas couldn’t stay away after what just happened. He knew their conversation wasn’t over yet, or at least he hoped that Dean was willing to hear him out. Besides, he couldn’t stand the thought of hurting the hunter, not after what they’ve been through, not after how close they had gotten until now.

 

When Dean opened his eyes, the angel was right next to his bed, greeting him the way he always did, and for a minute the hunter hoped that everything what happened in the past few hours had only been a dream.

“I’m doing this for you, Dean. I’m doing this because of you.”

Nope, it wasn’t a dream. Dean forced himself to put on a sarcastic grin, having to hear Castiel’s excuses for the second time today didn’t hurt less than the first time he had to endure this. Cas really thought he was doing the right thing while what he was doing was clearly a mistake Dean tried to prevent.

“You gotta trust me, man!”

“Or what?” Oh, fantastic. Now he was acting like a stubborn child.

“I’ll do what I have to do to stop you.”

“You can’t, Dean. You’re just a man. I’m an angel.”

At this point, Dean realized, there was no prospect of an agreement. He and his friend would be enemies. Cas would try to open purgatory, Dean would try to stop him at all costs. The idea of standing in Castiel’s way or even having to hurt him was almost unbearable, but he was a hunter. His job was to avoid catastrophes and save lives, so he wouldn’t stand there and watch while someone ripped a big fat hole into the dimension to gain power from thousands of evil souls from purgatory. Technically, it wasn’t someone, it was Cas, but… as he said: he would do what had to be done.

“I’m sorry, Dean.”

The brief sound of wings, a light breeze in the room, and Castiel was gone.

 

When Crowley kidnapped Lisa and Ben in order to keep control over the Winchesters and Bobby, Castiel helped him to find them and even saved Lisa’s life, but despite that Dean couldn’t bring himself to forgive the angel. He asked him to erase their memories- this way, they wouldn’t get hurt because of him again. In addition to that, Sam suffered from hallucinations, struggling to find back to his old identity as the effects of his damaged soul suddenly overwhelmed him. Dean had to watch, unable to do a single thing to help his brother, once again feeling utterly useless. What he could do though was to stop Cas from opening purgatory, so for now, he decided to concentrate on that.

 

By the time they arrived at Castiel’s and Crowley’s hideout, Cas had tricked both Crowley and Raphael, completed the ritual and proudly demonstrated his newly gained powers. Crowley fled, presumably the best choice he could make, while Castiel stopped Raphael from following him by killing him with just a snap of his fingers.

 

That wasn’t Cas anymore. Whoever was standing in front of them was extremely powerful and very dangerous. The souls from purgatory had changed him, even though he looked the same as always, his personality had switched to something… ancient and evil.

“You’re not my family, Dean. I have no family.”

Even if they had argued a lot in the past few days, the real Cas, the Cas Dean knew, would never have said something like that. Dean couldn’t move, but Sam, coming out of nowhere, attacked Castiel from behind, stabbing him with an angel blade that didn’t affect him in the slightest. Because he wasn’t an angel anymore.

 

“I’m your new God. A better one. So you will bow down and profess your love unto me, your Lord…

or I shall destroy you.”

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“I’m your new God. A better one. So you will bow down and profess your love unto me, your Lord…

or I shall destroy you.”

There he stood, right in front of Dean: the familiar stranger. He didn’t know if he should call the person- was it even a person?- Cas, God or just the personification of pure evil. The hunter couldn’t tell if there was only a fraction of the Cas he used to know inside there, but there was not much time for assumptions and analysis anyway. He was glad that… whoever this was took off, giving them a “second chance”, and didn’t kill them right on the spot.

 

It didn’t take long for Bobby, Sam and Dean to find out what Castiel was doing, he was basically all over the news where people reported about the miracles he performed.

“He was young. And… and sexy. He… had a raincoat.” Dean turned off the TV with a pained expression on his face, earning a few questioning looks from Bobby and Sam who were standing behind him. He shrugged his shoulders, he had heard enough, definitely because Cas had apparently killed some innocent priest by making him choke on his own tongue, of course not because of the woman’s obviously flirtatious words from the interview.

More of these messages came in via radio, and as much as Dean just wanted to turn it off or simply destroy the whole thing completely, he followed the news while he did what he always used to do when he needed time to think about something- he fixed his precious Baby.  It didn’t help that Sam was still messed up because of his damaged soul either, and the situation just kept getting worse.

 Dean thought they just had to summon and enslave death to kill the new God, but this plan didn’t work out that well. Cas still thought he was doing the right thing, ignoring the power of countless souls from purgatory, not to mention the Leviathans, that threatened to eat up his vessel from the inside. Even though it was obvious that Death didn’t sympathize with the “mutated angel” as he called him, he let him escape as soon as said self-proclaimed Lord freed him from the Winchesters. Cas vanished for the millionth time, and right now, Dean was actually glad to have him out of his sight.

Suddenly Castiel was back, all dishevelled and covered in blood, clinging to the doorframe for support after he just slaughtered a bunch of office workers. “I need help” was all it took for Dean and Sam to rush to his side. Sure, he caused a lot of trouble since he became God, but he looked more like Cas now, and he didn’t look like he would last much longer.  Dean’s protective instinct kicked in at the sight of his injured friend, so he did his best to help, however, he still hadn’t forgiven him completely.

Although Cas tried his hardest to convince Dean that he felt regret, it didn’t change a thing, not for him, and not for Dean. This broken relationship needed more than just a sorry or a pat on the back, and deep inside, both of them knew that.

 

It all seemed to work out perfectly fine, the gate to purgatory opened and Cas released the souls. However, as soon as they left his body, Castiel broke down like a dead man.

“Maybe angels don’t need to breathe” Dean half-joked, half-prayed, because damn, if Cas died right here, he was sure he’d never get over it, especially after they couldn’t properly say goodbye. It wasn’t fair, he at least wanted to forgive him before it all came to an end, Dean deserved an apology and an appropriate chance to make his farewells…right? Even for Dean Winchester, the one wo wasn’t even allowed to believe he deserved anything in life, this was too cruel to be true. Fate couldn’t hate him that much.

“Damn it.”

It was supposed to be a curse, but the words were suspiciously quiet, almost soft, his voice breaking. Okay, fate really did seem to hate him that much.

When Dean was close to crying as the injuries on the angel abruptly vanished, he opened his eyes and inhaled audibly. Castiel blinked, once, twice, then frowned and croaked a weak “that was unpleasant” that would have sounded hilarious if it wasn’t for the serious situation.

“I’m gonna find some way to redeem myself to you.”

Dean thought it was finally over, he thought he had his angel back, his real Cas, when Castiel pushed him and Bobby away. Before he could understand what was going on, the former warrior of God sent him flying across the room with a low chuckle that made shivers run down his spine. A strange black substance that looked like a mixture between tar and blood was dripping off him as he stumbled out into the sunlight, his vessel undeniably in a horrible condition.

Sam, Bobby and Dean followed the trail of black goo, only to see how Castiel’s head disappeared in the lake in front of them. All that was left of him now was the lonely trenchcoat which stranded right in front of the older hunter’s feet, heavy and dripping wet in Dean’s arms.

“Okay. So he’s gone.”

He folded it, his hands clutching the dripping fabric until his knuckles turned white.

Cas had been God, then Leviathan, and now he was gone. Awesome.

 

It wasn’t a rare thing for Dean to suffer from horrible nightmares, mostly because his subconscious mind had to deal with the problems he kept pushing away while being awake, but it still surprised him that Castiel showed up in them more and more often. Dean was forced to watch, to experience his memories over and over again, until he woke up, sweaty and even more exhausted than before. Now he started to understand how his brother must have felt when he had to watch him die every Tuesday.

More than once he must have talked -or, according to his brother’s exaggerated complaint, screamed- in his sleep, begging Castiel to stay, begging for him to listen to him and forget about his idea of opening purgatory in the first place. Of course, it didn’t help. Whatever he tried to say to him, Cas stepped into the lake and vanished every time. Dean was tired, not only due to his lack of sleep, but also because he couldn’t stand these agonizing dreams anymore.

He wanted it to be over. He got so desperate he even wanted to kill himself at some point. But he didn’t, because there was still work to do, the world needed him, so he distracted himself by keeping track of the Leviathans for now.

Sam’s hallucinations only got worse over time. The imaginary Lucifer was basically controlling his life and when he got into an accident, ending up injured and unable to sleep without the use of sedatives, the doctors sent him to a mental hospital without further ado. Dean tried everything to help his brother, he couldn’t stand seeing Sam in such a state, so he asked several other hunters for help until someone recommended a healer called Emmanuel. However, when Dean visited the address, he found himself standing face to face with Castiel who had lost his memories of his former life. Cas- Emmanuel? - still agreed to help Sam out though, and so they drove to the hospital together.

The car ride was uncomfortable for the hunter, he had a hard time dealing with the fact that the person who was, in his eyes, originally responsible for Sam’s current state was sitting there next to him and remembered nothing about it. Of course, he was happy that his friend was alive, but … this was just awkward. Dean wanted to yell at Cas, to kick him, to punch him, to do something to make him snap out of his amnesia. He looked so pleased, so happy with his new life. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair.

Then the demon Meg joined them, and he had to put up with the constant flirting again, subtly rolling his eyes at every sentence that left the girl’s mouth. No, this wasn’t fair at all, and if this didn’t stop soon, he was sure he’d explode right then and there.

 

The hospital was surrounded by demons, so in order to get inside to see Sam, they had to ask Emmanuel for help by revealing his true identity, whether they liked it or not. As soon as he expelled the first demon, his memories returned, leaving behind an angel full of regret and self-reproaches who was barely able to look Dean in the eyes. This wasn’t exactly more comfortable than before, but the hunter considered it to be a first step in the right direction.

“I deserved to die. Why did I even walk out of that river?”

“Maybe to fix it?”

Dean opened the trunk of the impala, revealing the familiar trenchcoat he had kept there since he had fished it out of the water. It was still dirty and covered in blood stains, but he handed it over to Cas as if it was the most precious thing in the world he possessed. Maybe that coat was a bit like their relationship right now: damaged, tainted by the things they had done, but still familiar, a reminder of many happy moment they shared as well. Dean wanted to keep making more beautiful memories with Cas. The stitches would always be visible on the fabric, what happened couldn’t be forgotten, but they could try to fix this. They only needed a bit of time to patch up what had been destroyed.

Back at the hospital, Cas tried to heal Sam, he agreed to take on his burden, whereupon he stayed behind at the mental hospital with Meg as his nurse while the Winchesters left. It was hard to say goodbye, but Dean convinced himself that it was for the Castiel’s own safety to stay off the angel radar for the time being.

It took some time until Meg contacted them again, apparently Cas was getting better, so they decided to pay him a visit as soon as possible, but as they arrived, they became witnesses of a rather disappointing scene. Cas was awake and talking, but he seemed… different, to put it nicely. Completely crazy, to be honest, it was like talking to a child instead of an angel of the Lord, and Dean started to question why they had even come here for this nonsense. Talking to that familiar stranger hurt, talking to the person who was and wasn’t Castiel at the same time brought back unpleasant memories he’d rather forget about.

Couldn’t the angel just open his eyes, understand the serious situation they were in and help? Only a little? No, of course not. All he could do was sit there, playing a game that ironically had the title “Sorry”, but Dean knew that he was only playing. It wasn’t real, none of it was real, Cas wasn’t real.

Again, there was no time for his personal emotions though, since they successfully found one of the tablets and a prophet who luckily was able to read it, so taking care of the confused Asian kid from “Advanced Placement” and running from angels and demons (and every other supernatural creature who wanted to hunt them down, really) came first. With Meg by their side plus a mentally unstable baby in a trenchcoat who appeared and disappeared almost randomly, it was only a matter of time until things took a turn for the worse again, so Dean wasn’t surprised that they lost Kevin to the angels.

But hey, they had found a way to defeat the Leviathans, they finally had the opportunity to end this mess once and for all, so it couldn’t possibly get worse… right? Well, seeing Meg and Cas flirt with each other from the corner of his eye, he made a mental note not to wish for anything positive; it could, and would, always get worse than imagined. He tried, okay, he tried his best to give the angel enough space and time to return to his normal self, but it was slowly killing him to see that his best friend refused to fight by his side for unknown reasons.

Right now, said friend was standing between him and his brother with a plate of sandwiches, looking at them with his proud-yet-crazy smile that Dean had learned to love and hate at the same time.

“Please, accept this sandwich as a gesture of solidarity.”

Dean wanted to wipe that apologetic smile from the angel’s face and Sam, who eyed him with concern and confusion, obviously had the same wish upon hearing that he would stay behind, that he wouldn’t fight with them, that they had to conquer Dick alone. Their first attempt at even finding Dick failed though, so they had to return, promptly running into Cas who obviously tried to hide something from them. The angel only admitted that he feared “destroying everything”, making the older hunter angry for the umpteenth time because why wouldn’t he just tell him, his best friend, what bothered him so much.

Cas had been through a lot, yeah, but that wasn’t a reason to run from every fight with the excuse of not wanting to make a mess. Everyone makes mistakes, Dean did, Sam did, Castiel did, but they always managed to fix things because they didn’t give up. Because they trusted in each other and believed they would make it in the end. Because they believed in their family. The family that Cas was a part of.

Dean told his friend exactly that, and somehow managed to get his point across, because finally Castiel agreed to help them out. The hunter felt relieved, partly because he felt much safer with the angel’s help, but also because Cas was…making progress in returning to his usual self that Dean had missed so much.

 

Things were risky up to the last minute: they infiltrated the company, killed a few dozens of Leviathans in the process and managed to find Kevin- who seemed pretty calm given the whole situation- and stab Dick in the end. It went just as planned, except for one little detail: when Dick Roman exploded, everything went black. Pitch black. Dean didn’t know for how long he’d been out, but when he opened his eyes, he found himself in… where exactly was he? And why was Castiel standing behind him, dead serious, while he was laying on the ground?

“Every soul here is a monster. This is where they come to prey upon each other for all eternity.”

“We’re in purgatory?” Oh great. If there was a place even more dangerous than heaven or hell, this was it. A hunter’s nightmare: everything he had once killed now had a second chance to kill him. Awesome, just awesome.

“How do we get out?”

“I’m afraid we’re much more likely to be ripped to shreds.”

Judging by the red eyes belonging to monsters lurking in the shadows and growling at them, they were indeed very likely to die here. Or at least Dean was, because as soon as the hunter turned around to face his friend, the angel was gone. He had vanished without a word, without saying goodbye, he had left him to deal with these creatures on his own.

“Cas!” he whispered, unable to believe that he really had been left behind, but nobody replied. He wanted to shout his anger out into the darkness of that damned forest because it just wasn’t fair. The hunter decided against it though, swallowing the emotions- rage, sadness, betrayal, fear- and preparing to fight for his life like he had always done.

If he would make it out of this alive, he would find Cas and make him pay for this.