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Shooting Stars

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"You know He disapproves of when you do that, Dean."

Dean doesn't turn around. He takes another drag of his cigarette and then lets it dangle between his fingers, gazing out into the inky blackness of the earth's night sky.

"Yeah, well, just let Him know that I don't really give a shit. He's got more important things to worry about than one tiny damn cigarette."

Cas sits down next to Dean and looks at him with his bright blue eyes. "It's still prohibited. Just because you are no longer susceptible to the negative effects of smoking doesn't mean you can do it…or that it doesn't still smell terrible."

Dean remains silent. Instead of responding, he turns to Cas and blows a smoke ring towards him. "I'm gettin' good at those."

Cas rests his hand on Dean's knee, and the hunter looks up at him through long eyelashes.

"How have you been acclimating?"

"How've I what?"

Cas pauses. "What I mean to ask is if you are adapting well to Heaven."

Dean chuckles humorlessly. "Oh, yeah. Place is just peachy."

Another pause. "You're being sarcastic."

"Mhmm."

"Why do you feel the need to emit sarcasm?"

Dean holds the cigarette between his teeth and moves his arms behind him, putting all his weight on his palms.

"I guess it's because I'm not 'acclimating'—" He lifts his hands briefly to make air quotes, "–well, Cas. Can we just drop it, man? Please?"

"I've seen you happy since you and Sam have arrived."

"Cas."

"You're in paradise. Sam is here. You no longer have to worry about protecting him, or yourself."

"No, but that's it!"

Cas looks at Dean, a little startled by his sudden outburst. Dean adjusts his cigarette and inhales deeply before continuing.

"I…the fucking reason we're here is because I couldn't protect him, Cas." He scrubs his hand over his mouth, refusing to meet the angel's eye. "One job, and I couldn't even get that right."

There's silence between the two of them for a few moments, and then Cas speaks.

"Dean."

Dean blows another smoke ring, this one shakier than the last.

"Dean."

Still no response.

"Look at me, Dean."

Finally, Dean looks.

"You spent your entire life protecting Sam, as well as hundreds of people you didn't even know. I know you won't want to, but please try to believe me when I say that you, more than anyone, deserve peace."

"C'mon, Cas," Dean says softly.

Cas shakes his head. "You might be saying things sarcastically, but I'm not."

Dean averts his eyes, but Cas notices the smallest hint of a smile on Dean's lips.

"Hey, guys."

Dean and Cas turn to see Sam walking towards them.

"Skipping the ceremony?" he asks.

Dean shrugs. "Seen one 'Welcome to Heaven' shindig, you've seen 'em all."

"There's gonna be piiiiie," Sam says, smirking as his brother's head quirks up. "And pigs in a blaaaaanket."

"They'll also be taking attendance," Cas says, "so we should probably be there.

As if on cue, a symphony of trumpets blasts through the air to signal that the ceremony is about to begin, and the trio instinctively get to their feet. Sam glances at Dean and does a double-take, apparently noticing the cigarette for the first time.

"Dean! What the hell, dude?"

"Relax, Sammy, it's just a—"

"He's coming!" Sam hisses, elbowing his brother hard. "C'mon, Dean, Jesus!"

Dean quirks an eyebrow and smiles, holding the cigarette between his teeth. "What, He's gonna be here, too?"

Sam rolls his eyes and swats at his brother's hand. "Drop it, hurry up. You know He'll be pissed if He catches you again."

"Yeah, yeah. 'All-loving God,' my ass." Dean waves his brother off, takes one more drag, then flicks the cigarette away, watching for a few seconds as it descends down toward the earth.

 ******

"There's one!" Ben points up at the sky as a particularly bright star shoots across the dark. "Did you see it, Mom?"

Lisa smiles to herself and runs her fingers through Ben's hair. "I did, Hon. That one was great."