A/N: Inspired by the After Midnight Project song More To Live For. Major character death, angst.
Dean had aged. It seemed so slow to everyone else, but to someone who'd seen the beginning of time, it was the blink of an eye. One day passed into the next, and time was flying.
But not in a good way. Not in the way that humans usually meant, when they said how time flies - when you're having fun.
Because Castiel would do anything to make time slow, even slightly. Just for a day. Just for more time to be with Dean.
Dean no longer hunted, his body physically not allowing him to any longer. Sam had retired as well, and they'd started doing what Bobby used to do; research, man the phones, and whatever else a hunter might need.
Castiel, of course, spent his time with Dean. He had his angelic duties to heaven, but after his stint as a fallen angel, most of them had realized that there's not much they can do to control the rebellious angel. They left him alone for the most part. Certain things they did call him in on, and he was reluctant to leave Dean and Sam for however he might be gone. But his siblings were demanding and don't take no for an answer, and so he returned to heaven for what was normally only hours on Earth, but sometimes, it was weeks that he is gone.
And everytime he returned, Dean had deteriorated further. First were his joints, an ache in them that Castiel could relieve with a simple touch - however, Dean refused to let him. Next his sight began to go. His eyes retained their vibrant green, but now he wore glasses. That, too, Castiel was not allowed to heal.
Dean's unwillingness to accept help frustrated Castiel. But he wasn't deterred; he soothed the pain slightly whenever he could, not enough to make Dean notice, but enough that he didn't think he was doing nothing.
Days when Cas could do that were the good days. And for every good day, there was a bad day lying in wait.
They typically started off with a nightmare. However much Dean may protest, he was affected by the years he'd spent in the job, and the horrors had only just begun to catch up. All Castiel could do to help with the nightmares was hold Dean close, murmuring quiet nothings to him until the shaking or sobbing subsided.
Weeks would pass without a sign from the nightmares, but then they'd come back. And Castiel was powerless to help Dean.
It's one Dean's bad days that left Cas waking up with a sinking feeling settling in his gut. It hung heavy, tainted with grief for a death not yet come. Castiel helped Dean get through the morning, and it was one of Dean's better days, pain wise. Castiel fluttered around their house, making sure Dean was comfortable and didn't need anything. Other than when he was getting something for Dean, Castiel was at his side.
Sam came over, as he did everyday. Sam and his wife, a blonde woman by the name of Jennifer, lived next door and all the research books and phones were set up in Dean and Cas' house. Jennifer often came with Sam, as she knew about hunting - her brother's girlfriend, and her best friend, had been killed by a wendigo - but Sam was alone that day.
Sam was let into the house, but Castiel immediately flitted off to return to Dean's side. He could hear Sam moving around in the other room, but that was ignored in favor for clasping the sleeping man's hand close and listening to his shallow breaths. They were slow and even, barely there. Castiel knew they would be stopping entirely soon.
Sam came into the room, having divested himself of his jacket and looked at Castiel. "How is he?" he asked in a quiet voice, his hazel eyes meeting Cas' blue ones.
Castiel shook his head in response, not wanting to say anything.
Sam sighed and ran a hand through his gray hair before sitting down in one of the chairs adorning the room. "How long?" Sam asked, grief touching his voice.
Castiel didn't answer for several minutes. "Not long," he responded in a quiet tone.
Sam didn't say anything else, clearly expecting Cas to elaborate.
"I don't think he'll last through the day," Castiel said, his voice cracking.
Sam screwed his eyes shut, bowing his head. "Are you sure?" he asked in a small voice.
Castiel nodded. "I'm certain, however much I don't want it too be true."
Sam didn't say anything again, and Castiel didn't offer anything else up. The two sat in companionable silence until one of the phones began ringing. Castiel stood to get it, but Sam held up a hand in a stop motion. "Don't worry. I've got it. You stay with Dean."
Castiel nodded again and sat back down next to Dean. He listened to Dean's breaths, which getting slower and slower. He was almost tempted to wake the man, just to be able to speak to him once more. He could hear Sam in the other room, and he knew he should call him in, so he could be there when Dean went, but he also didn't want to witness that grief on top of his own.
So he listened to Dean's breaths and held the man's hand tighter.
By the time Sam returned the room after dealing with the FBI agent on the other side, Cas had disappeared and Dean's breaths had stopped. Sam was left on his own with his dead brother and no one to talk to.
Tears began to roll down his cheeks and he crossed the room to clutch at his newly deceased brother's body.
It was a flash of light, followed by an overwhelming feeling of nothingness… then Dean was waking up, thirty again. He was lying on some nondescript hotel bed somewhere, and he was completely alone.
Heaven, he thought as he sat up to get a look around. The room looked vaguely familiar, and it wasn't until he heard a familiar voice from behind him that made him realize why. This was the room - or at least Heaven's copy of it - that he and Cas had first slept together in.
"Hello, Dean," the voice had said, and Dean spun around to face the speaker.
"Cas," he breathed before surging forward to embrace his angel.
A few seconds passed before Dean stepped back and gave Cas a questioning look. "You didn't leave Sammy on his own, did you?"
Cas looked affronted. "He has his wife..."
"Dammit, Cas, you can't just leave him to deal with me dying on all his own."
Sighing, Cas asked, "Do you want me to go and speak with him?"
Dean thought on that. "No, you've got time for that later. For now, though, there's a perfectly good bed over there."