Dean remembered how Anna had looked when she was being hunted by the angels. She'd been scared, though she had tried to keep calm. He'd seen it in the hollows of her eyes, felt it when she'd stayed with him in the backseat of the Impala and heard it in her voice when she'd talked to him and Sam about what was happening.
Castiel was different though. He was unafraid of the angels that would come to find him if he fell. Anna had told him that it was time for him to think on his own; and after he'd seen what Uriel had done, he had decided that maybe she was right. Maybe he did have to act out in order to help humanity.
Well, to help Dean.
He really hadn't meant for it to happen. Dean had been drinking steadily once more, after all his memories of Hell had resurfaced, and he found out exactly what his brother had been up to. Sam had been less than cordial about it, though he hadn't been purposefully callous towards his brother. Sam just didn't seem to understand the gravity of the situation—but then how could he? He didn't know what Dean knew about the seals or what he knew from his time in Hell. Sam didn't even know what kind of path he was running blind down, and no matter what Dean said, he wouldn't listen to him.
So Dean had taken to the bottle again, only sobering up when there was a hunt. Sam was around just as much as normal—there during the day, and missing at night. Dean had stopped caring.
Castiel showed up after a few weeks of this, taking the bottle of Jack out of his hand and crushing it on the sidewalk outside. It was the first show of outward anger that Dean had seen from the angel, and it had scared him. He'd seen both Castiel and Uriel fight before; seen the coldness in their eyes and the quick, precise lines of their blows. But this was different, this was human.
"You can't keep running Dean."
The angel hadn't spoken anything else to him before leaving, and Dean had gone to bed that night feeling nauseous for more than one reason.
"I'm not running." Dean didn't face Castiel when he appeared the next day, his trench coat flapping in the wind. Sam and Dean had managed to score a room on the top floor of a decently priced motel, complete with a balcony, two double beds and a surprisingly spacious kitchen area. Castiel leaned against the railing, staring Dean down with his unblinking eyes.
"Then what are you doing, Dean?"
Dean shoved the glass slider door open so he didn't have to speak through the pane and raise his voice. The people in the neighbouring rooms really had no right to hear what was going to be said.
"I'm staying out of the way for once in my life. Everyone else can just fuck off. You want help? You go get Sammy." Dean snorted, "he's the hotshot these days anyways. I can't take on a demon with my mind."
"But you're the only one that can stop Lucifer." The expression in the angels eyes changed, they were softer, almost pleading. "You're the only one who can stop the seals from being broken in the end. Your brother may be able to dispatch demons with his mind, but that doesn't mean anything in the long run." Castiel stepped closer, crowding Dean back into the room. "In the end, your brother is just a pawn, and we don't know whose side he's playing for yet."
Dean turned his back on the angel, "then it looks like the world's gonna burn, Cas. Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not as righteous as someone up there seems to think."
Dean threw the angel down on the bed before climbing over him, breathing heavily against his neck. Castiel's boots were locked with his, legs hooked over Dean's calves, keeping their bodies flush together. "If I was righteous, would I be doing this?" Dean nipped at Castiel's neck, moving his mouth down the side in open mouthed kisses. One of his hands snaked underneath the angel's shirt, running a calloused palm over the defined muscles of his abdomen. For an accountant, the vessel that Castiel had chosen for his own form had been in good shape while he was alive.
A low whine was coaxed out of Castiel's throat when Dean moved down to finger the waistband of his slacks. "Righteous men don't fuck with angels, Cas."
It shouldn't have been much of a surprise to either man when Castiel fell. Dean was right there, holding the debauched man against his chest as it happened. Castiel's body had stiffened and he'd thrown his head back in a soundless scream, throat working almost obscenely as he squeezed his eyes shut. Dean hid his face against Castiel's shoulder, covering his eyes when the bright flash came, shattering the mirrors in the room spectacularly before dissipating to a dull glow.
The fallen angel slumped unconsciously against Dean's body once all traces of his grace were gone from his body and the room.
"What are you going to do Dean." Sam asked. Both brothers were standing in the living room doorway, overlooking the sleeping man on the couch. They'd been squatting in an abandoned house in the New York suburbs for a few days now. The war was escalating, the demons getting bolder as each new seal was broken. Dean had been counting them down, but he'd lost track when there were only 10 remaining before Lucifer walked again.
"I don't know," Dean met Sam's eyes, turning away from the fallen angel's unconscious body. Dean had kept Castiel with him ever since he'd lost his grace the month before, and since then there had been a handful of attacks on his life.
Sam's eyes flashed yellow, something that they'd been doing a lot lately. Since Ruby had been killed, Sam had been cut off from his supply of demon blood, but he'd found that it didn't matter much anymore. He remembered a long time ago, how Ava had said that he learning curve when he opened to his powers was incredible. She had been right; he'd just been hindered by Ruby, who had convinced him that drinking her blood was the only way to get stronger.
That's why Sam had pulled her from the corpse that she inhabited, burning her until there was nothing left.
"Castiel won't be safe, if Heaven wins this war. They'll still gun for him, and probably you as well. We all know how blind angels can be." Sam's words weighed heavily on Dean's shoulders, as he stared into the golden depths of his eyes. He was thankful that their father couldn't see his youngest son like this; knew that their father would be crying at the sight. Sam had become everything that John had tried to prevent.
"We'll all be dead if Hell wins."
"No," Sam said quietly, putting his hand down on Dean's shoulder. It was warm, like Sam was a living furnace. He always emanated heat, even in the dead of night when the sun had set and there were no other sources of heat in the house. "If Hell wins this war, you'll both be safe. No one would touch you."
"What the fuck, Sam." Dean shrugged the hand off his shoulder, frowning.
"I'm not joking, Dean."
A month later, Dean stood on the edge of what was left of the Sears Tower. The sky was burning, clouds obscuring the sun, flames licking at the darkness from fires lit all over the horizon. The air was warm from them, no one who was left living ever needed to wear a coat. There was blood on his face like a second set of dusky red freckles across his cheekbones, the dying blood of the last man he'd tortured for information. Sam had told him he didn't need to, that they'd be able to find the seal on their own, but Dean had killed the man anyways.
Castiel was at his side, eyes downcast and hand clutching at Dean's, their fingers twined together tightly. He hadn't said anything about Dean's regression back into his hell learned skills, those that Alastair had taught him. He'd decided long ago that it was no longer his place to pass judgement. He'd abandoned that right when he'd lost his grace. Below them, Sam was directing his army towards the last small garrison of angels that guarded the final seal.
Dean and Castiel watched on together with the promise that they were perfectly safe when the end came.