Into Dust

Title: Into Dust

Author: ToxicLullaby

Summary: Dean realizes he's always been watched over after a talk he has with Castiel.

Rating: G

Warnings: Not really schmoopy, at least I don't think...I don't know. It's sweet. Maybe just a little schmoopy. Also, this is a (pretty mild) slash fic between Castiel and Dean (I deeply apologize to my anonymous mislead reader. The slash is so mild I wasn't sure. Again, so sorry.)

A/N: Honestly, I didn't even know what this was going to be about. I just knew I wanted something with Dean and Castiel walking together in the park (I know, sounds cheesy...) and this is what my muse gave me. So don't blame anything on me! Oh, and maybe you'd benefit by listening to Mazzy Star's Into Dust before reading, just to get the feel of it. I named it after the song because that's what I was listening to while I was writing it and my muse thought it fit in a strange way, so…

Disclaimer: I'll tell you one thing, if I owned them I definitely wouldn't be wasting my time writing fics about them when I could actually make it happen. Mwuahahhaaha!

***

The air smelt so good this time of year. Dean breathed it in deep, letting the aroma of evaporating rain and chimney smoke awaken his senses. He was never one for taking long walks. On the contrary, that was a usual scorn of his toward Sam. But the day was just too beautiful to watch through a dirty motel window. So he made up some lame excuse, the usual making a beer run, and took the chance to escape to the nearest park.

It was early fall. The trees were still green, but some had streaks of gold and red. The storm the night before left the grass slick and muddy, so he stayed on the cement path that ran through the park. Nobody was out today. He preferred it that way, anyhow. There was nobody to put a show on for. No preconceptions, judgments, or condescending stares. It was just Dean.

Taking a moment to relax, breathe, he took a seat at one of the green painted benches. Staring out at the houses that were lined up across the street, he wondered who lived in them. What kind of lives did they lead? Were they alone, or had a family? Were they normal?

Last year, which was supposed to have been the last of his life, made him think about everything he didn't have. Dean wasn't ungrateful or resentful toward his family and life. He saved lives. And nothing would ever take away his love for Sammy. But sometimes, when he was alone, he watched families going about their normal lives. Boring, they seemed, but there was something so charming about sitting around a table with your family, enjoying each other's company, talking about your day. John never asked how their day had been. He assumed they were fine unless one was bleeding or worse.

Why couldn't his father have taken some time out of his obsessive life for his sons? He didn't understand that. When he wasn't hunting, he was either drunk or looking for a new case, sometimes both. Though Dean was more than grateful that John wasn't a mean drunk, at least to his children, the memories of him stumbling through the door after being gone for a week, almost too drunk to walk, were all too vivid. Would it have killed him to pretend they were a normal family sometimes?

"Obsession consumes the mind, Dean."

Nearly jumping out of his skin, he stood and spun around quickly, met with brilliant blue eyes staring curiously at him. Relieved, he sighed, taking a moment to let his heart go back to a normal rhythm. "Cass, all that power, don't you think you could send me some kind of warning when you're about to pop up? Things could get awkward if you showed up at the wrong time."

The Angel moved closer to him. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."

"What do you want now? And please don't tell me another trip to the past or a soul-changing experience. I'm not exactly in the mood to be saved today or whatever it is that you do."

Castiel shook his head. "Don't worry. You're safe. I heard your thoughts and grew curious."

Dean shot him a confused look. "About what?"

Looking further up the path, he took a deep breath before returning his gaze toward the younger man. "Come. Walk with me."

Though still confused, he shoved his hands in his pockets and followed him. Soon, they were side by side, their pace slow and relaxed, their moods calm. The sun crept through the gray clouds, speckling the path with warm, golden dots. Light breezes rustled the crisp leaves on their branches. The day was perfect.

"When you were a child, about five or six years old, you used to pray. When Sam or your father was asleep, you'd sneak into the bathroom and ask the Lord why he took your mom. You would get so angry, you'd cry for hours, sometimes even falling asleep until your dad woke you up and carried you back to bed," Castiel said.

Their eyes met.

"What, were you keeping tabs on me or something?" Dean asked.

Their gaze held until Cass looked back toward the long path ahead. "By age seven, you had completely stopped all communication with God, angry or otherwise. You chose the path of atheism, spending the last twenty or so years denying the very existence of him."

"And you want to know what made me stop."

The Angel gave a slight nod, blue eyes carrying that same genuine, innocent curiosity, tinged with a deep sadness, a weight he's carried around longer than Dean could imagine.

Dean sighed, looking aimlessly around at their surroundings. "I guess I stopped believing the first time my dad came home from a hunt, drunk and beaten. I mean, he was a mess. And I…" His gaze dropped to the cement and cleared his throat, an affectation he used to keep the emotion out of his voice. "All I could think was if there was a God, or something up there, how could he take my mom away, and let my dad go through all of that and not lend a hand. I mean, my dad…we, are fighting his war while he sits up there in Heaven barking orders without lifting a finger."

"You haven't changed very much."

Silence settled over them for a few minutes as they walked. The breezes picked up the scent of the flowers accenting some of the bushes lining the path. Squirrels pranced around in the grass amongst the birds digging for worms. A few more months, the only trees that would still hold leaves would be the pines.

"Let me ask you something, Dean," Castiel said, breaking the silence. Coming to an abrupt halt, he touched the man's shoulder so he knew to stop too. They faced each other. "Twenty years, John was a hunter. He faced things that could've ripped him to shreds, literally, if he so much as missed a single step. And you, how many times have you come close to death in the past, before all this with Lilith, and made it out alive?"

Shifting on his feet, he shrugged. "I don't know. More times than I can count, I guess."

"So all those times when you thought you were sure to never see the light of day again and you did, it never occurred to you?"

Dean stared at him blankly for a moment before chuckling. It was drier than he intended for it to be. His defenses never seemed to work with Castiel. "You're joking. You mean to tell me all those times, all those hunts and near death experiences, we were being protected by an angel or God or something?"

Castiel slipped his delicately fair hands into the pockets of his beige trench coat. "It was your destiny that kept you alive, Dean. Destiny comes from the Lord."

Taking a step closer, his face hardened. "Well then, if what you're saying is true, does that mean God destined my brother to be…whatever he's becoming? Or for my dad to make a deal to save me and go to Hell for a whole year, or who knows how long it was for him down there?"

Breaking their gaze, the Angel moved his eyes to the ground. "No, that wasn't his doing. Azazel manipulated Sam's destiny for his own agenda. And your father had free will, just like you did when you made that deal to save your brother." He looked up. "It was by God's command that brought you back to earth, Dean. It's your destiny. You are not your father nor are you your brother. Each path is different. Your father's was finished. Yours isn't."

"And Sam's?" Dean asked.

"When Azazel took control of his destiny, we stopped knowing what his purpose was. His fate is not in our hands anymore."

Trying not to lose his cool, Dean laughed lightly and touched the corners of his mouth. "Funny, for his fate not being in your hands, you seem all too eager to kill him."

Castiel took a step closer, only a small gap between them. "I'm not eager to do anything to him. Not yet. It was I who asked that you be given more time to save him. Don't you see? His fate is not in our hands. It's in yours." He took a moment to let that sink in. "There is still a chance of saving your brother, Dean. You have my word; we won't lift a finger until we have no choice."

"How do I know you're not lying?" Dean asked; his voice deep and rough.

"My word is my promise. I've never broken a promise and I don't intend to start now."

The anger written on Dean's face slowly melted away. Either Castiel was telling the truth or he was a damned good liar. There was something about him that seemed so trustworthy. That feeling Dean gets inside whenever he's around, that feeling of peace and redemption, giving him a sense of importance, calmed and scared him at the same time. If everything was a lie and he was just a pawn in their game, he was the most ignorant person on earth.

Castiel brushed past him, taking a few paces ahead until he was standing directly beneath a large oak tree. As a breeze picked up, his arms stretched out to his sides and his head leaned back. Dean couldn't help but notice how beautiful and majestic he looked. With his coat swaying in the wind behind him and his hair being gently ruffled, he looked more Angelic than ever.

The breeze faded a few moments later. Dean was startled when the Angel turned and looked at him, his eyes a brilliant, unnatural shade of blue. The man couldn't look away even if he tried.

Cass moved closer, and he felt his heart flip-flop in his chest. What were these feelings? It was different than seeing your crush in the hallway at school or getting your first kiss. It was deeper. Seeped into your core and flowed throughout your entire being. Dean's never felt anything this intense. Not even when he was in love with Cassie.

"I want you to hear something. Close your eyes," he commanded, keeping his voice soft.

Dean's brows creased. "Why?"

"Just do it. There's something I think you should hear. But your eyes have to be closed."

Reluctant, he did as he was told. A feeling of electricity moved around his side to his back. When a pair of hands gently touched his arms and raised them like Castiel had done, every hair on his body stood on end. He felt them slide slowly down to his bare forearms where his long sleeved flannel was rolled up. Chills ran down his spine when a body pressed ever so slightly against his back. "What are you doing?"

"Shh," the Angel whispered in his ear. "You'll want to be quiet so you can hear it."

Sighing, he felt himself relax against Castiel. Whatever this feeling was, this electricity, it was too much yet at the same time it wasn't enough. He felt like he was under some sort of spell. Another breeze picked up, but he didn't feel cold, the Angel's warmth spreading through his body.

They stood like this for a few moments until Cass whispered again in his ear, "What did you hear?"

"A lawnmower; dog barking; sirens on a police car…"

He shook his head. "You're listening with your ears, Dean. Listen with your heart."

This moment was just begging for a "Jack, I'm flying" joke, but he figured not only would Castiel not get it, but he would probably give up and move away, and he didn't want that. Whatever this was, he may not have been able to put it into words, but he wanted it to last for as long as he could keep it. So, still not seeing what the point of all this was, he took a deep breath and listened.

He really did hear a dog barking and a lawnmower. Leaves rustled on the trees. What was he supposed to hear? Just as he started to speak up, say he didn't know what he was listening for and probably wouldn't recognize it if he did, something made him stop. There was a voice. It whispered to him. Not in his ear like Castiel had, but it was all around him. It was…in the wind? He listened closer to catch what it was saying. Whatever it was seemed to be in a language he didn't understand.

"What the…" His eyes snapped open and he looked over his shoulder at him. "What was that?"

"God," he answered simply.

Eyes wide, Dean looked up into the trees and beyond, as if he was searching for something. He didn't know what. "You're kidding."

"No. He's always spoken in the wind. Eventually, as time went on and people stopped believing, they stopped hearing his voice."

"What was he saying?" Dean asked, trying to keep the astonishment out of his voice. He let Castiel guide his arms to where they were crossed over his stomach. Expecting him to let go, he was surprised when he didn't. In fact, he moved closer, his whole body pressed against him. A soft smile graced Dean's features. The Angel was holding him. He knew how this would look to someone who didn't know them, but he didn't care. Dean basked in the warmth that spread through him.

"It was in Aramaic," Cass said against his ear. "He said you must release your old beliefs and judgments to fully accept his love. You must open your heart to him. Let him guide you down your path." He paused, breathing in his scent. Dean smelled slightly musky with a hint of cheap motel shampoo. "You have always had a father who loved you, Dean. Just because you stopped believing in him doesn't mean he's stopped believing in you."

The words vibrated throughout his entire body, ringing in his mind, melted into him. Could it be? Could God really care about him? He wanted to believe so badly that this was all true. And a part of him really did. In that instant, he felt his death grip on his old beliefs loosen, even if just a little. "Hey, what do you-" he started, turning to face him, only to find himself standing alone. His eyes scanned the park, the trees, searching for that familiar trench coat and those gentle but intense blue eyes. The feeling he had before was now just a shadow. A memory. Castiel was gone.

***

Sam and Dean's night had gone on as usual. They had Taco Bell for dinner and watched an old Bond movie on TV. Sam turned in early. He seemed to be more exhausted than Dean lately. It worried the elder somewhat, but he figured Sam had been through a lot while he was away. He needed the rest.

As Dean lay restless in bed, he started to think back on his time with Castiel. Everything about that Angel screamed sex. Not the act itself, necessarily, but the intensity of it and the feelings and emotions and sensations. His touch was pure electricity. Just the thought of feeling that all over again made his cheeks flush and body tremble.

That voice. He couldn't remember what it sounded like because it was so faint, but that didn't affect the impact it had on him. Did God, the God, actually speak to him? How did he know that wasn't Castiel pulling his leg? Trying to get him to believe? An Angel can yank him out of Hell. Who knows what else they can do? Dean pushed these thoughts aside though, almost laughing at himself. He knew when he looked into Castiel's eyes that he was telling the truth. Or maybe he was just falling for the biggest joke of them all? Who knows? He certainly didn't. But the message was still the same nonetheless.

He thought back to when he was laid up in the hospital after frying his own heart. How sure he was that the only way he would be leaving was in a hearse, or whatever Sam decided to do with his body. Sure, it was Sam who lucked out in getting the info on that Roy guy, but was that all it was? Luck?

His mind started to move toward the "why didn't he save me from going to Hell" bit, but that would bring back memories and once those started, he wouldn't be able to sleep for days. He chalked it all up to 'at least they eventually busted me out. That's all that matters'.

Looking over at the clock, seeing the glowing numbers read half-past midnight; Dean figured he might as well catch some shut-eye. He rolled over onto his side, curled up to his pillow, and closed his eyes. Unfortunately, just like so many nights this past month he's been back, the second his eyes were shut, he didn't see darkness, but rather flames. He could hear the screams, cries for mercy that were only answered with more agonizing, unfathomable pain. The instant he felt fire lick at his bare legs, he jolted awake and out of bed, already covered in sweat.

Wiping his brow with the back of his forearm, he looked over at Sam, who was still asleep. Dean sighed and looked around the dark room. Nothing good was on TV at this hour. He didn't feel like going to find a bar. There was nothing. His gaze then moved toward the bathroom. He could see his reflection in the mirror. Running his tongue over his bottom lip, he checked once again to make sure Sam really was asleep, which he had no doubt with how loudly he was snoring.

He headed for the bathroom and locked the door. The small window between the toilet and bathtub allowed the pale moonlight to illuminate an empty spot on the floor. He couldn't help but smile. 'Oh yeah, sure, just to add to the moment,' he thought. But still, he sat in the light, back pressing against the cold wall. The warmth he felt before was gone, replaced by a bitter cold that seeped through his thin t-shirt and well-worn sweatpants.

Now this was nostalgic. How many nights had he crept into the bathroom to seek solace? More than he could count, or would even like to admit, that was for sure. Bringing his knees up to his chest, his arms wrapped around them, holding them close. He tried to convince himself it was to keep warm, but knew it was a sort of shield he used when he wasn't sure he needed protection, but wanted it anyway, just to be safe.

For minutes, he didn't say a word. He just listened to his own heartbeat and breathing. To be honest, he wasn't sure where or how to start. It'd been so long since he'd done this, he didn't remember how. Finally, he decided he needed to start talking about something, anything, or he would lose his nerve and go back to bed. Clearing his throat, he started by simply saying "God," his voice a whisper.

"I don't know if you can hear me, but Cass seems to think you can so…" He shook his head. What a schmuck he felt like. "Look, I know I was mad at you before. I was just…" Sighing, he looked aimlessly around the room. "Well, I guess I was just angry. Not at you, but myself. You see, that was my mom. My family. I should have been able to save her. To do something. Hell, I couldn't even save her when I went back and had the ch-" Dean's voice broke, tears streaking his reddened cheeks down to his trembling chin.

He tried to wipe them away, but they were replaced instantly by new ones. Realizing there was nobody to see him make a fool of himself; he finally gave up and let the tears roll. Swallowing hard, he looked up. He wasn't sure why. It didn't matter where he looked since God or whoever probably wasn't watching, or even listening. But it just felt like the thing to do, so he did it.

"I'm…I'm sorry, okay? For getting angry with you, and for stopping believing in you. I didn't know. You know, we'd come out of a case barely alive and I'd just chalk it up to good luck. I didn't believe in destinies or fate or greater goods. And now…you saved me. Now I'm supposed to believe that I'm someone worth saving from the pit? Someone who God personally assigned to save the world? I don't know if I can do that."

Breathing in a shaky breath, he leaned his head against the wall, eyes closing. He couldn't hear anything but the buzzing neon sign outside. Not that he expected to, but a part of him hoped he would get just a little indication that he wasn't talking to thin air. Why was he here? Why did he even think God would hear him? This was a waste of time.

Suddenly, the air in the room changed. It felt charged, like after a thunder storm. Dean's eyes opened when he felt a hand gently touch his. Though he wasn't surprised, his breath still caught in his chest and his heart did that flip-flop thing again. Blocking out the moonlight was the form of a man squatting before him. Even though he could hardly make out any of Castiel's features, those tantalizing blues shone bright through the darkness, piercing through to Dean's core.

For the first time since they'd met, Castiel smiled. It wasn't big, but anything on his face other than confusion or just plain detachment was a shock. The Angel took Dean's hand in his, holding it gently like a fragile crystal that could shatter at a single touch. "He hears you, Dean," he said in a soft but affirmative tone.

No words were able to form on Dean's tongue, and his body was frozen. What felt numb before was now wide awake, buzzing with life. Castiel's touch was something no human could possess.

Without speaking, he stood, helping Dean to his feet along the way. At first they just stood there, peering at each other through the darkness, not speaking a word. For this moment, all they needed to do was feel. And for this moment, time and place ceased to exist. Two kindred souls, one human the other something more, something better, found such understanding in one another. They never thought it possible.

Dean shuddered at the sensation of a hand on his cheek, gently caressing. They were soft and gentle against his burning flesh. Why was the bathroom so warm? Or was it only him? His mind switched off the instant Castiel began to speak, just like it always did. This angel demanded undivided attention the second he came into a room let alone when he spoke.

"Dean," he said, almost in a whisper. "The Lord believes in you, Dean. You can do this. You should stop doubting yourself."

Smiling, he blinked away the fresh tears dripping from his eyelashes. "How can you be so sure?"

That gentle smile returned to his face. Dean knew the phrase about people's eyes lighting up when they smiled. But with Castiel, it was true. He could clearly make out the blue through the darkness of the room. Could he be any more beautiful? He was afraid to find out. Who knows what he would do in that situation. His heart skipped a beat when the Angel moved closer, nearly closing the gap between them.

"I believe in you too," Castiel said before filling in the last of the small gap. Their bodies were touching.

Unable to move or think, or even speak, Dean stood frozen solid when the blue drew closer, and he felt a puff of warm air on his lips. Cass was going to kiss him. This was wrong; blasphemy; wasn't it? Every instinct screamed "Not gay! Not gay!" But he couldn't pull away. That magnetic energy sucked him in and held tight.

He closed his eyes and, with bated breath and his heart pounding in his chest, anticipated the kiss. But none came. Dean's eyes opened. It took a moment to register that he was alone in the room. He released his breath, whether it was out of relief or disappointment, he wasn't sure. Had he done something wrong? Maybe he sensed his tenseness? Finally letting it sink in, he was pretty sure disappointed was probably the right answer.

Making sure to stay quiet, Dean crept out of the bathroom and back to his bed. Crawling under the thin motel blankets that smelled of musk and stale cigarettes, he rested his head on the fluffy white pillow and yawned. This mattress was terrible. Metal springs jabbed into his side. Rolling onto his back, he found a much more comfortable position.

He had just started to fall asleep when something caused his entire body to paralyze. The silkiest pair of lips was pressed against his. His eyes shot open, immediately met with the brightest, most brilliant white light he'd ever seen. But it didn't hurt to look at it. He couldn't make out the face the lips belonged to, but he didn't have to. Rings of blue fire bore into his eyes. A deep feeling of grace washed over him, staying with him even after the light dissipated and Castiel was gone.

Dean's mind was at peace for the first time in what felt like forever. Even if it was just for a single night, he was grateful to have the weight he's carried since he was four years old lifted off his shoulders. He drifted into a deep sleep with dreams filled with happy memories of his family before Mary died rather than plagued by his haunting memories of Hell. Tonight, the Angels really were watching over him.