This is a disclaimer.

AN: Title from Marlowe. Choose your own implications.

Nor am I out of it

He comes back the way he first arrived: at night, and in dreams. Dean pads across the parking lot in bare feet, goosebumps tightening his skin. The scrape of his jeans on the concrete is loud in the darkness.

"You couldn't come talk to me for real?" Dean demands. He puts an edge of anger in his voice, a touch of fury. Dean wasn't the one who practically ran from this. He doesn't take dumbass-obviously-wrong-ridiculous orders from anyone (anymore).

Castiel tucks his hands into the pockets of his trenchcoat, and Dean tries really, really hard to think of it as the meatsuit's trenchcoat, but it doesn't work. It might not even be true. Cas might like looking like Humprey Bogart on his way out of the rival bookstore. At least it's not Nicholas Cage, cause that would make Dean Meg Ryan, which... no. Even if he were a girl, no.

"I didn't want to see Sam," Cas says baldly.

"Right," Dean agrees. "Cause you're a lying liar who lies, and I don't even know why I'm still talking to you. Oh, yeah! You invaded my dreams again."

Castiel makes a noise that might even be called a chocked-off sob. "I did," he says. "I did, and I am."

Dean stares.

Cas sighs. "It's complicated."

"Lemme guess. I'm like that loner kid at school that none of the cool kids are allowed to talk to in case they get thrown off the football team, even though I understand you better than your jock friends?"

Cas looks almost amused now. "You were that kid at school," he says.

"Shut up," Dean says. "Only for a couple years."

Cas is still sort-of smiling. Dean reckons that's a good thing.

"So what's the big news? I should probably tell you that I know everything there is to know about Sam. For example, he's even more of a lying liar who lies than you are. And his Anakin Skywalker impression is improving with every day."

Even Dean can hear the underlying bitterness in his own voice. He hates it, and he hates the look that Cas is giving him: the same one he was wearing That Night, when Dean watched his mother sign away all their lives in exchange for a few more years with his father.

It aches in Dean's very bones, that look.

"What?" Dean asks at last.

"I don't think I'm going to be on the football team for much longer," Cas says. "The damage is done."

Dean has absolutely nothing to say to that, and it's not just because Cas used a metaphor.

"What do I do?" he asks at last.

Castiel shrugs. "What do you do?" he asks right back.

"Save people," Dean answers, on automatic. "Hunt things. Screw up a lot. Screw a lot, full stop. And I eat."

Cas is smiling again. "I know about the first," he says. "And some about the second. But the other three..."

Dean smirks a little. "They're not that hard." There's silence for a moment then, Cas contemplative, Dean frankly a bit worried. If Ruby is to be believed, they're getting closer and closer to the End. The Big One. He can't decide whether or not it is actually an appropriate time to be having an existential crises of faith.

Finally, Cas moves. Takes a step forward. He's still a little shorter than Dean, and he tilts his head a bit to look him in the eye.

"Every second we stand here, we come closer to the abyss," Castiel says. "And I want to - to eat, and screw up, and be - be someone - be and have and know and - I want, Dean."

There's desperation there. Anger. Confusion. Rejection and refusal and a thousand things that mean bad and lonely. Dean doesn't know how to make that better, how to take it away, to reassure and comfort. He never has done. Maybe if he did he wouldn't be here now, talking to an angel in his dreams while his baby brother that Mom and Dad entrusted to him fucks a demon and plots to take over the world. All Dean knows - all he has ever known - is how to keep on going regardless: because you have to, and because you believe in it.

"That bit about the abyss?" Dean says. the words rise up slowly, struggling out of him, but they come. "It's why you want. It's called being human. Well, you know. Sorta. Eventually."

They're standing so close to one another that Dean can feel the heat off Castiel's body, can count the lines etched into his face around his eyes and mouth.

"It wasn't your fault," Castiel says at last.

Dean looks away. "It was my decision. Mine. It's always my decision, Cas. And you know what? The only person to ever understand that was Anna."

Castiel flinches at the mention of her name. "Well. She was always smarter than the rest of us," he says.

"The thing is," Dean says, rather cuttingly, "is that you've never made your own decisions, and Sam can't deal with the idea that his were wrong."

Cas sighs again, breath ghosting over Dean's face. "Dean," he says quietly, smiles brilliantly. "Oh, my Dean. Exactly."

Dean has no idea what he means by that, but it doesn't seem to matter when Cas reaches up, slowly, hesitantly, to rest a hand over his heart, and then touch his cheek.