“Cas,” Dean murmured sleepily, “what was it like when you pulled me out of Hell?”
Cas froze, fingers resting on top of Dean’s head where he had been stroking his hair. “What brought this on?”
“Nothing really,” Dean said, shifting to fully face Cas. “Sam and I were talking about everything we’ve been through over the years. He brought up the trips to Purgatory and Heaven. Neither of us could remember the journey from Hell back to Earth. Sam figured he couldn’t since his soul and body returned at different times. But I can’t remember either.” Dean curled against Cas’ side. “I remember Hell still. It’s not as bad as it used to be but it’s still there. And I remember waking up in that coffin.” He half-heartedly glared at Cas. “Thanks for that by the way. But I don’t remember the ride up.”
Pulling Dean as tightly to him as possible, Cas buried his face into Dean’s hair for a moment. His thoughts were scattered. How to describe something that would turn out to be the biggest moment in Castiel’s life?
“Dean, you have to understand how long it took to reach you. Alastair liked to keep his victims in the darkest, most horrific parts of Hell. I’ve visited Hell when Crowley reigned and it’s nothing like Alastair’s domain. It’s still Hell but it’s rather boring. Alastair liked to sap any shred of hope from those on his rack.”
He paused, lightly dusting kisses across Dean’s face. One of the reasons he had tucked Dean against him so tightly before starting this story was so he could keep an eye on his physical reactions. When he mentioned Alastair’s name, Dean had started shaking slightly. Once Dean’s breathing had returned to normal and he stopped shaking, Cas continued.
“Many angels gave their lives to free you. I think of them often. We knew we were close when the opposition grew stronger. The moment when your soul shone through…” Cas trailed off, eyes staring into space. Dean tipped his head up, watching the wonder light Cas’ eyes up. aT that moment, Dean wished that Cas still had all of his angel powers and that he could show Dean what he was remembering.
“Dean, there are no words to describe seeing your soul, that beautiful light, in the deepest, darkest parts of Hell. At the risk of sounding cliche, it was like an oasis in the desert or a buffet table when you haven’t eaten in weeks. You tried to refuse, tried to stay in Hell. Even then, you didn’t think you deserved to be saved.”
Dean buried his face against Cas. “I know that you still think that Dean,” Cas whispered. “It’s okay. Just know that I would dive back into Hell, I would slog through Purgatory, and I would battle every angel left in Heaven’s garrisons to be right here with you. As much as I have saved you, you have saved me and I wouldn’t change a single moment that led us here.”
Cas slotted his hand against Dean’s shoulder. “I almost wish I hadn’t healed you before. Or that I had the ability to recreate my handprint. That way you could look at it and remember how you are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Cas stop,” Dean grumbled from where his face was still buried against Cas.
“Never,” Cas laughed. “I’ll tell you every single day if I have to. Even if I can’t see your soul anymore, I know that it’s still shining just as beautifully now as it did then. Back then, I didn’t realize what it was that I felt. I didn’t have the words for it. Now I do and I will repeat them as often as I have to. I love you Dean. I love you to Hell, Heaven and Purgatory and back.”