Title: Psychopomp (My Heart Will Go On)
Summary: It was a common occurrence, especially in hospitals, and especially with the elderly. But the necklace puzzled them. Everyone but Sam. He'd seen that color before, brilliant blue, clear and ancient. He knew his brother was finally at peace.
Warnings: Character death and spoilers for… Titanic?
A/N: I listened to My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion for the first time in a long time yesterday. I was inspired. I'm not sure if this is humor, romance, or angst. Make of it what you will. And leave Britney alone!
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural. Or Titanic. Or Oops… I Did it Again. I do, apparently, own the ability to combine all three. So that's something.
Psychopomp (My Heart Will Go On)
Dean hurt. Fifty years after stopping the Apocalypse and he'd assumed the pain would have stopped. It had only gotten worse with age, though. His heart ached. His body ached. And someone that wasn't Sam was in the room with him.
Slowly, Dean pushed himself up to look around, IVs pulling in his arms, body protesting the movement. Sam had, indeed, stepped out of the room- maybe for food, maybe to pray- but he hadn't left his brother alone.
Dean blinked, swallowed hard. The room was bathed in shadows, the blinds closed to help him sleep in the early morning hours, but he knew that voice. It had been so long since he'd last heard it, so long since the war had been won and the creature borrowing it for his own purposes had left with a shaky good-bye and a soft kiss.
So it wasn't possible. It couldn't be possible. Because Dean just wasn't that lucky and it had been fifty years and the man stepping out of the darkness by the bathroom definitely didn't look eighty.
Castiel smiled. "This?" He tugged absently at the front of his t-shirt. "This is a vessel. The same one I've been using since my first journey to Earth, thousands of years ago."
Dean raised an eyebrow. Right. He knew what was going on. He was old, probably dying, and delirious. Hallucinating that the angel he'd had a thing for in his youth- the one that had claimed to love him and somehow made Dean love him back- was standing in his hospital room in jeans and a t-shirt, smiling at him.
"I need to blend in," Cas said. He glanced at the door. "Just in case."
"Of course," Dean muttered, voice rasping, breath catching in his throat as he struggled to breathe. He chose to ignore the pained look on the angel's face at that. "And, uh, how does Mr. Meatsuit stay so fresh over the centuries?" He drew another labored breath. "Wait, wait. Don't tell me. Because God said so?"
Castiel walked to his bed and smiled sadly down at him. "Because God commanded it." He leaned forward and rested a warm hand on Dean's sunken chest, closing his eyes and whispering softly.
The hunter arched off the bed, his lungs expanding fully for the first time in months, eyes raking over the angel's face. "What…?"
Cas moved his hand from Dean's chest to the dying man's face. "I've missed you." He shook his head. "And, no, this isn't a dream."
Dean stared at him with wide, unbelieving eyes. He was met with a deep blue gaze- the one that had haunted his dreams for years, only this was different. The hand on his face had weight to it, was warm and soft and comforting and real.
Suddenly, he wasn't so sure about this. Wasn't so sure about himself. He wasn't the same man he'd been during the war. He was weak, tired, unable to much more than eat and sleep on his own, reduced to a helpless pile of limbs in his final days. His face sagged, his body betrayed him, muscles had withered to nothing as the years had added up, and he knew he wasn't worthy of the angel staring down at him with pity in his eyes. He'd never been worthy, but now, with the gray hair and the wrinkles, the scars left by time…
"You're beautiful." The angel's hand slid from his face. "Don't be afraid. We can be together now."
Cas smiled. "No."
"Then, what?" Dean shook his head. "Wait a minute. You came back for me?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"You waited for me. Even knowing that it could never be."
"But it can now?" Dean asked.
The angel nodded and reached into his pocket. "I brought you something." He pulled his hand out and pressed the small gift into Dean's open palm, closing the hunter's fingers around cool metal.
Dean reluctantly pulled his hand out of Castiel's grasp and raised it, releasing his hold on the object, letting it fall before catching it by a smooth silver chain at the last minute. "Is this…?"
"Yes. Yes, it is."
The chain clasped loosely in his fingers was attached to a ring of diamonds that almost resembled the shape of a heart. Resting snug in the center of the ring was large blue gem. Dean smirked. "But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end."
Castiel smiled. Again, the expression was sad, his face guarded, eyes gazing unblinkingly into Dean's. Not that he'd thought the angel would get the reference. He was pretty sure Britney's racier songs and videos had been banned in heaven.
"Do you trust me?" the angel asked.
Gnarled fingers closed back around the necklace and the hunter's hand dropped back to the bed. That was a pretty stupid question, as far as Dean was concerned. He'd trusted the guy enough to fall in love in the first place, hadn't he? Trusted him enough to believe him when he'd said everything would work out. Even trusted the feeling in his own gut that said it couldn't possibly be over when Lilith was defeated, Lucifer was locked away for good, and Castiel disappeared with a flap of invisible wings.
"Do you still trust me?" Cas amended.
Dean grinned weakly. "Never stopped."
The angel leaned forward, hands falling- one on the bed, one to land on the faded and puckered scar on the old man's shoulder- to hold himself up as his lips met Dean's. The hunter reacted as if the last fifty years had never happened, as if his world wasn't turning on it's head in one night, as if Castiel wasn't sucking all breath from his frail lungs, moving his hand to fist in the thin hospital gown as everything spun around and the earth moved and Dean let his eyes slide shut to familiar sensations he'd never thought he'd experience again in life. Hell, even in death, if he was being honest.
Chapped lips parted from his own and he moaned, wanting them back. Too long to wait, to want, to dream and never have.
"Open your eyes, Dean." Sadness in the voice.
Dean wasn't sure he wanted to see. "You don't want to be here, do you?"
Cas' hands left his body and moved to his face. "I want to be here. The company is favorable. The circumstances, undesirable. Open your eyes."
Dean did as he was told and found himself staring down into endless blue. Down. Meaning…
He looked around. Gone were the whitewashed walls and the smell of antiseptic, the uncomfortable plastic chairs that Sam had called home since Dean had taken his latest bad turn.
They were standing on rough concrete, both of them standing. Dean hadn't been able to stand- not strong and proud and tall- for a long time. A cool breeze blew across what appeared to be a parking lot and he realized that he was no longer wearing the hospital-issued gown, but clothes that had been destroyed long ago. Old jeans, torn at the knees, and a t-shirt. His father's old leather jacket wrapped around him, embracing him like an old friend.
And he felt good. Felt like he could run a marathon. Like he could climb a mountain. He wondered, briefly, and reached up before he could stop himself. Cas seemed to understand and dropped his hands from Dean's face, letting the hunter run calloused fingers over smooth skin, a hint of stubble. No wrinkles.
"What did you do?" he asked, although he had a pretty good idea.
Castiel turned and took a step back, toward the building that the parking lot belonged to. A motel. Room number five was directly in front of them.
The angel waved a hand toward the building and the door swung slowly open. The room was impossibly packed for its size, full of people, all looking out at him and smiling. Some of them he barely recognized. Some he barely remembered. Some had died so long ago, back in the war, that he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
His parents stood nearest to the door, their smiles the brightest, beckoning him in. His father had looped an arm around his mom's waist, holding her close, never again to let her go. His grandparents stood behind them. Ash and Bobby. Ellen. Jo, Lisa, and Ben- casualties of Lilith's rage. Cassie. Countless others he'd known and loved and helped along the way.
He understood. Knew what it meant without having it explained, what was waiting for him beyond that door, with everyone standing and staring and making him feel wanted. Like he belonged.
He looked back to Cas, who held out his hand toward the hunter, offering to make the transition as painless as possible. His very own angel, loving him, watching over him, and helping him move on.
Dean smiled. "Guess this means she died in the end, huh? Sad. I thought she was just dreaming." He reached out and took the proffered hand, but surprised the angel by spinning him around and back into another kiss- this one deeper, slower, his hands sliding down to Cas' hips to hold him in place, keep him just a little longer in case it didn't all pan out.
The angel finally pulled back, looking up at him with wide, innocent eyes. Eyes he'd missed too much. "Dean?"
"Waited fifty years to do that again." He slid his hand back into Castiel's, lacing their fingers together. He smirked. "Now we can go."
The angel turned and took the lead, walking through the doorway, Dean following close behind into eternity.
Sam returned to his brother's room to find it full of doctors and nurses, all of them moving slowly and all of them looking displeased. The bad food he'd just eaten was instantly forgotten as he attempted to step into the room.
"Time of death," a deep-voice said, "6:45 a.m."
"What?" Sam asked.
A nurse was instantly in his way, blocking his path. "I'm so sorry," she said, hanging her head. "But he's gone. We did everything we could."
Sam blinked. It wasn't like he hadn't been prepared for something happening to Dean, but he'd wanted to be there. He hadn't wanted his brother to die alone. "What happened?"
"We don't know. He just… died."
The nurse shook her head. "We don't know, Mr. Dawson. I'm sorry."
He sighed and nodded as doctors started filing out of the room. "Don't be. This is what eighty-year-olds do, right?" His attempt at humor was lost as his voice cracked and tears welled in his eyes.
"There's one more thing," she said, her words slow. She didn't want to bother him, and that was understandable. He was mourning. It was sinking in. Dean was gone. Dean, who had never left him, who had stood by him, who had fought an impossible war and won, who had never touched another woman after that damned angel had done something to him. Sam could only hope that his brother was happy now, wherever he was. And that he wasn't in that place.
"What is it?" he asked, rubbing a hand over his weathered face.
"He was holding onto something."
That was odd. "Life?" This time the joke seemed more genuine. Seemed like something Dean would have said. It was, after all, what Dean had done.
The nurse looked almost offended. "No." She held something up for him to see.
Sam pulled out his glasses, pushed them up onto his nose, and squinted at the object in her hands. It was a necklace. But not Dean's. Not the one they'd forced him to take off, the one that now hung around Sam's neck for safe-keeping.
"The Heart of the Ocean?"
"I don't know what that is, Mr. Dawson."
He shook his head. Of course not. That was before her time. Those actors had been long dead before this girl's birth, their greatest accomplishment forgotten by all those but the aging teenage girls and Dean, who liked to laugh at the predictability of historical movies.
Sam reached out and took the necklace from her, wrapping aching fingers around the delicate silver chain. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen that movie, but it had been with Dean. He was sure. Probably late at night, holed up in some cheap motel room. There would have been commentary. And whistling in all the appropriate places.
He smiled. "Thanks."
The nurse nodded, obviously confused. "Sure thing." She walked away, her steps quick, desperate to get away from the crazy, grieving man.
He ignored her and walked into the room, pulled up his plastic chair to the bedside and tugged the thin sheet off his brother's face. Odd, Dean was smiling. It was slight, but it was there.
Sam looked back at the necklace, holding it up and letting it twirl around in the air. He gasped as it caught the first few rays of the sun sliding through the blinds. The jewel glinted bright blue in the light, a blue so deep and ancient that he'd only ever seen one shade that could compare. His smile matched his brother's as he realized what that meant. "Castiel."
So there you have it. My first fic of 2009. Funny, I thought I was gonna get something... different finished first, but this one begged to be written, so...
Thanks for reading!