The day was cold.

It was mid-November, and dean was sitting in deep reverie at the table in the bunker.

A thousand thoughts were running through his head.

The cards had all folded.

They had lost. Again.

Once again, they came back with nothing. Sammy had tried his best, but it hadn't been enough. And Dean . . . well, Dean had let everyone down, as always.

The only saints he knew were made of gold. Sitting high up on the walls, watching everyone with a cold, metallic gaze.

He remembered sitting in that church, staring up at the golden crucifix on the wall—the angel statues adorning the hall, their gilded wings and graceful arms outstretched to the heavens; so different from the angels he knew.

Cas.

The one he'd hailed—he had turned out to be the worst of all.

The blood ran stale on Dean's neck, drying as he gazed across at his broken brother sprawled on the other side of the room. It had been Cas's fault. They'd been double-crossed, their plan had failed, and now his brother was going to die.

But no matter what happened, no matter what dreams were crushed in the end and no matter how many failed attempts at redemption Dean made . . . he was still only made of greed.

Greed at keeping his brother with him. In the end, that always proved to be his downfall. He never wanted to be alone. Not like this. Not without a brother. And not knowing what lay in store for him, in Hell . . .

"Dean."

Dean didn't even look up.

He knew Cas had been watching him for who knows how long. But he hadn't made the effort to stop him. He was hurting inside, and sometimes, the angel was the only one who could sooth him.

But not today. No; today was a cold day, with gilded angels and regret so deep it almost felt a part of his soul. No. Today he couldn't let his demons out.

"What do you want, Cas?"

"It's been three days," Castiel said with concern, walking closer to Dean's stoic figure. Dean stiffened. With worry etched in his features, Cas said, "What is troubling you, my friend?"

After a moment, Dean caught his breath, barely able to look up at the angel standing beside him.

"It hurts, Cas. It hurts so much . . ." He had to stop himself from crying. He stood up, exasperated, exhausted, and ran a hand down his face, pacing. "I mean, I thought it—" He looked down.

"It would get better."

Dean turned to him, face broken, looking for peace, but not finding it in the equally broken celestial being gazing back with piercing, blue eyes.

He wanted to hide the truth. He wanted to shelter him, his innocence . . . that look of utter believing and trust, he wanted to protect him from the evil that had entered their lives. He wanted to protect him from him.

"Cas—I'm poison to you," Dean said, as hard as the words were to speak. "There's a beast inside, and it's not gonna hide—from you, from me . . ."

The angel gazed back, trying to understand Dean's words.

"I'm just worried that . . . when everything's, done, when the curtain calls, the mess I've made, it's just . . . it's gonna be staring me in the face. Sammy. The trials. The amount of people I've killed . . ."

"It wasn't your fault," Cas said with conviction. "Sam made his decision. And as for who you've killed . . ." Castiel took a step closer to Dean, looking him in the eyes. "God raised you from Hell. He dug you out of that grave for a reason."

"I don't want to let you down, Cas," Dean said, his voice breaking, tears in his eyes. "I don't want to let anyone down. But . . . I'm hell-bound, Cas."

Suddenly, slowly, the angel closed the space between them, and he took Dean's face in his hands. Dean looked up at him, broken, bruised, his lips trembling.

"Look into my eyes, Dean."

He could feel the heat from Castiel's closeness. He didn't want him to see, with all that beautiful blue innocence shining in his eyes, the demons that lurked inside his soul. He could feel them trying to claw their way out . . .

"Cas—don't," he tried. The angel was searching his soul. But it was dark inside.

Cas, don't get too close; it's where my demons hide.

"I don't care," he pressed. "You don't have to hide the truth from me, Dean."

Then he pulled him into a warm embrace.

"I already know where your demons hide."

"I can't escape this, Cas," Dean said into his shoulder.

The angel held him tighter.

"Then let me show you how."