Set in the End!verse, which speaking of, August 1st is approaching and we should all prepare for the outbreak of the Croatoan virus. With that cheery thought, enjoy! :D

Maybe it's the drugs making him emotional. It wouldn't be the first time, after all. But for some reason, when their Fearless Leader announces he's heading into the city on a mission that everyone realizes is suicide, Cas can't just sit by and let him leave again. Normally, he'd go with, but Dean's already selected the group of people who are to accompany him and it turns out that he wasn't on that list. After their meeting, Cas approaches him, intent on either convincing Dean to let him tag along or on talking him out of this entirely.

"I'll be fine," Dean says, checking to make sure he's got enough ammo before he leaves.

"I know, but I should come with, just in case things go south."

"They won't."

"Dean, that place is crawling with Croats! You think they're just going to let you go on your merry way in your search for Lucifer?"

The former hunter sets his gun down and turns to glare at Cas. Despite the iciness in his gaze, Cas can still see the concern etched into his features.

"Cas, I don't get why you want to come with. It's a suicide mission practically," he says.

"Exactly. It is suicide, so why are you so intent on going?" Cas asks.

Dean shrugs and Cas crosses his arms, staring at him and wondering what happened to the man he knew from five years ago. That Dean wouldn't have risked the lives of his friends, or even of strangers, no matter what. Yet here he is now, halfway out the door with a gun in hand, ready to make whatever sacrifices are necessary. Cas knows that if he tries to stop him physically, he's just going to get his ass handed to him. Despite having been an angel before and having strength superior to that of most humans, Dean's a different case. It still surprises him that Dean can throw him around when he gets pissed, like it's no effort at all.

"You used to be different," he muses aloud, hoping that maybe words will be enough to deter him for a moment. Luckily, Dean glances back, listening whether he'd intended to or not.

"I remember when you'd never put any of your friends in harm's way. I always wished that you'd stop, that you'd look after yourself first, for once, but this isn't exactly what I meant," he says.

"Look, I'm doing what I have to. If you don't like it, tough. But don't act all high and mighty with me, angel," Dean says, the nickname more of an insult, "last time I checked, you're not exactly the same as you used to be either."

The door slams shut before Cas can retort and he listens to Dean's retreating footsteps. He almost lets it go. He almost shrugs it off and goes back to the drugs that keep his mind pleasantly hazy and off of their grim situation. And then he realizes exactly who it is that he just let walk out his door. It's been a long time since Dean could be called Righteous Man, but he's still the one that Cas pulled out of Hell. In some ways, he's still his charge and if there's one thing he can do right these days, it's to keep Dean safe every way he knows how.

Dean's already halfway across camp by the time Cas gets it together and bursts out of his cabin. He shoves his way past the group following behind him and makes his way to Dean, pushing him to the side and barking at the others to stay out of this.

"What the hell, Cas?" Dean snaps, shoving his hands away.

"I'm not letting you do this."

"And since when do you care?"

"Since always, Dean. I've always cared about you and I can't just sit in my cabin and act like you leaving on some mission and never coming back doesn't scare me to death."

He hadn't meant to say that much, but he can't take it back now. Dean stares at him, unable to respond for what feels like forever.

"Cas," he finally says, voice softer than he's heard it in a long time, "I won't do anything risky. Promise."

Cas shakes his head and for some reason, his eyes are burning now, vision blurry with unshed tears. Just the pills, he tells himself. He's not crying. Definitely not.

"Just don't go at all."

"I have to."

"No, you don't. Please," he says, voice breaking, "please just stay here."

"I'm sorry, Cas," Dean says, gently moving Cas to the side so he can be on his way. The others follow, glancing at him a little hesitantly, occasionally looking back to Cas, wondering if the fallen angel will try to stop him again.

Cas takes a shaky breath and tries to blink away the tears that have formed in his eyes. He's not going to cry in front of these people and after swallowing hard, he turns around and heads back to his cabin. Normally, he leaves the door open for anyone who wants to hang out, but this time, he locks it behind him and goes to find one of the numerous bottles of pills that he's stashed away.

He doesn't take enough to do any damage, just enough to knock him out for a while so it doesn't feel like his chest may cave in at any moment. He's asleep, dead to the world until the following morning when the gates open and there's a commotion outside. He sighs, annoyed at whoever it is for disturbing his sleep and he glances out the window, the sight of the trucks rolling in not registering in his head for a moment.

When it finally hits him, and he realizes that they're back, that the mission is over, he bolts out of bed, tossing on some shoes and an old jacket Dean had leant him who knows how long ago. He makes his way down to where people are filing back into camp and looks desperately among their faces for Dean. His heart races and when he can't see him, he starts to panic.

"Chuck, what happened? Where's Dean?" he asks.

The old prophet looks at him sadly and Cas' heart drops into his stomach, dreading the worst.

"A few of us got left behind. It was bad, Cas. We were outnumbered," he says.

"So you just left him there?!" he shouts, drawing the attention of some of the others.

"He told us to go. If it's any consolation, he was still alive and well when we left."

Chuck says something else but Cas tuned out after hearing Dean is still alive. He shoves his way past the people moving in the other direction, checking to make sure that there are guns and ammo in the truck before hopping in and speeding away, ignoring the protests of the others. Luckily, he knows where the mission is centered and he drives with the accelerator pushed almost to the floor, cops who might pull him over long since gone.

When he arrives, he can still hear the sound of gunfire and the screams of the dying. Whether it's the Croats or their own people, he can't be sure. He grabs a gun from the back, packing a few extra clips with him just in case and heads out, only goal in mind to find Dean and bring him back.

The streets are littered with corpses, looking like something out of a horror movie and as he makes his way towards the sounds of battle, he hopes beyond all hope that Dean is not lying here among them somewhere.

He only encounters a few of the infected along the way and at first, picking them off is easy. But the sounds of his own gun draw others and soon, he's backed into a corner of some old office building, running out of time to find Dean and running out of ammo without time to change clips.

When the gun clicks and won't fire any more bullets, he realizes that he's screwed. There's nothing stopping the Croats from tearing him to shreds or worse, turning him into one of them. He fights some of them off, but he can't hold out forever and just as he's ready to accept the fact that he's going to die, he hears a voice that's like music to his ears.

"Get down, Cas!"

He ducks, as best he can, and he can hear Dean and a few others on the other side of the mob of the infected, shooting into the crowd and picking them off. Luckily, they abandon him in favor of trying to escape and he only has to stay down while they're finished off.

Before long, they stop firing and someone grabs him, pulling him up and away from the pile of bodies that surround him. He's pulled into a tight hug and he doesn't have to look to know it's Dean. He wraps his arms around him, breathing a sigh of relief that he's okay.

"You're so damn stupid, man. What the hell were you thinking, coming out here by yourself?"

"Chuck said you were still alive. I had to."

"Idiot. I'm just glad you're okay."

"Me too."

Cas smiles down at Dean fondly, playing with his hair while he sleeps. He always looks younger when he's asleep. Less angry and worried. He counts the freckles on his face and remembers the day that he'd put Dean's body back together and how he'd put everything back in its place just so. He leans down and kisses his forehead, the sort of affection that Dean would shy away from when awake, past or present version of him.

Dean grumbles in his sleep, but it doesn't seem that he's having another nightmare that's so commonplace these days. The former hunter smiles and Cas wonders what he's dreaming about. He wishes that he could see that smile more often these days, but for now, he'll have to settle for watching over him while he sleeps, just like old times.

"Cas?" Dean mumbles, still dreaming.

"I'm here, Dean. I'll always be here," Cas replies softly.


Cas smiles again and gets out of his seat, gently moving Dean so as not to wake him. He slides in next to him, pulling the covers over them and wrapping his arms around Dean.


"Mm," he says, scooting closer so their bodies are pressed together. After that, he doesn't speak again for a while and Cas watches him until his eyes get heavy. Unable to help himself, he presses another kiss to Dean's forehead and, feeling particularly bold, kisses him softly on the lips before he closes his eyes, intent on following him into dreamland.

When he feels Dean kiss back, he startles, wondering if he's somehow woken him, but when he pays closer attention, Dean is still breathing deeply, sound asleep. He kisses Dean one last time and pulls away, chuckling at the sad whine Dean emits in his sleep. He closes his eyes again and just before he falls asleep, he can't help but whisper softly to his human.

"I love you."

The confession isn't daunting or even particularly scary to say aloud. After all, Dean's asleep anyway and Cas has loved him for almost as long as he's been on Earth. It's simply the truth and he has no problem saying it now.

Dean waits until he's a hundred percent certain that Cas is asleep until he cracks open an eye. After the fallen angel's admission, he has this strange, newfound fondness for him. Not that he hadn't before, but with Zachariah and then Lucifer and the goddamn apocalypse, he hasn't had much time to think about his feelings for his friend.

He hasn't shared a bed with Cas since this first started and for that, he's grateful. It means that Cas can't tell when he's faking or not. He'd enjoyed letting him play with his hair and plant kisses on his forehead. If he could have his way, they'd do this every night, not that he'd ever admit that out loud.

For a while, he stares at Cas the way the fallen angel used to, and still does, stare at him. He brings a hand up to Cas' messy hair and runs his fingers through it, stilling when he stirs. Luckily, he doesn't wake up and Dean returns to his work of messing his hair up more than it already is, wondering what he did to deserve someone like Cas.

I'm such an idiot, Dean thinks. He'd been fine with almost dying today and if Cas hadn't come looking for him, then he could almost tell himself that it wouldn't matter anyway. But of course, the stupid angel had to go and be the hero, bursting in guns blazing like they used to do back in their old hunting days.

If it were anyone else, he might have left him to the Croats. There was no use in wasting ammo on one man. But it's Cas, the one who pulled him out of Hell, the one who loves him and has stuck by him, even after Sam left and said yes to the devil. He'd be lying if he said that the thought of Cas dying, alone and probably afraid didn't twist his insides into knots.

Eventually, he leaves Cas' hair alone, figuring it's fine for now and instead wraps his arms around Cas, tangling their legs together and, feeling gutsy, presses a kiss to Cas' forehead. Cas smiles but otherwise doesn't stir and Dean's heart sings in his chest at having this man next to him.

He buries his head into Cas' shoulder, breathing him in and smiling, closing his eyes and intending on going to sleep for real this time. Before he does, however, he thinks it's only right that he return Cas' sentiment, even if he's not awake to hear it.

"Love you too, Cas."