Disclaimer: I only own this story, not Supernatural or Sam and Dean!
For a change, Castiel matirealized at the end of the long, deserted road which led to the Singer Salvage Yard and began to walk, hands in pockets. It was early morning, the world still damp with dew and the cold of night. But on the horizon the rays of the sun were reaching up towards the pale blue of the sky, lighting the scrubby grass at the sides of the road in a vibrant green and igniting every daisy and weed. Castiel's shoes tapped on the tarmac road and he smiled as he moved his gaze over the landscape, marvelling at its simple beauty. In the silence of the beginning of the day, he felt relaxed for the first time in a long while.
True, Israfel was dead. When he thought of that fact he felt a surge of regret. If he pictured the moment in his head he could think of a thousand things he could have done differently to spare that life, but if he was honest with himself, there was nothing he could have done. Israfel's last words were true - he had made his final choice, and it was the right one. At least now there was no question of his loyalty, no fear of discovery. And Kushiel was gone too, not to return. No doubt that news helped the Winchesters sleep at night, considering all the hell angel had done. As for Anna, she was gone. She had stayed with him for a while, long enough to bless Israfel's vessel. He didn't blame her for leaving. To follow him around was to tie herself down, and to play with fate. And he would see her again, he had no doubt about that. In the coming war she would be needed just as badly as himself to protect the world from the monsters in the dark.
But for now, there was nothing but himself and the road, and for that he was thankful.
His wandering thoughts turned once more to the Winchesters. The ones who had come to help him not once but twice, pulling him back to his feet when he had needed an ally the most. And at this moment, he could dare to believe that they truly cared for him. As long as he had them to lean on, to trust, to protect, he could believe that they may just have half a chance at winning this war. It seemed almost funny to him now that a week beforehand he had been dewelling on the agony of having no one to help him, no family, no real friends when all along Sam and Dean had been just two steps behind him. It seemed that they had always pictured him as an important person in their lives since the war had begun. He just hadn't had the common human sense to understand their feelings. Come to think of it, he still didn't understand most of what they said and did, but that didn't seem to matter so much anymore.
The conclusion he was trying to reach through all these befuddled ramblings was that he finally felt at home. More at home than he had in his life.
Of course, that didn't mean that he had no reason to worry. Zachariah was still out there; it was only a matter of time before he tried something else. And the Winchesters were still slap bang in the middle of a war which looked like it was about to end bloody. There was still evil trying to break them down, but for now it was easy to believe that he could stand up to it. Castiel was nearing the Salvage Yard now, and he could see the glint of the sunrise on the dusty windscreens of ancient broken-down cars. He had left it a few days before returning to them, to give Sam time to recover from Kushiel's handiwork and Dean some space. And the Singer man had probably had enough of angels to last him at least a week. But he couldn't stay away forever.
He turned into the Yard, his shoes kicking up small dust clouds of shimmering soil. He had replicated his old suit and tie, prefering his original clothes to the baggy, worn ones he had been given. Besides, those ones reminded him of his weakness. It was time to look forwards. He made his way over to the house, moving with steady steps up the flaking porch. He reached the door and knocked on the scratched wood four times. He stood waiting. He could have just appeared directly inside, but he felt that to come in this way was to respect human traditions of entering through the main door. Besides, the words personal space had come up more than once in the past. After a few moments the door pulled open and Singer appeared in the gap. He relaxed at the sight of Castiel, leaning his rifle against the corner once more.
"Castiel," he said, inclining his head slightly.
Castiel returned the greeting and followed the older man through into the kitchen. Sam was sat at the table, his shirt hanging open to reveal a bandage that hid his slowly healing wounds. His fingers flicked over the keyboard of his laptop, his eyes roving the screen with critical precision. Dean was sipping coffee as he leant back against a counter beside the sink, his eyes wandering around the room. As Castiel entered both boys looked up, and a grin spread over Sam's face.
"Cas!" he said, lifting a hand. "There you are. We were thinking about naming you M.I.A."
"Hey, Cas," Dean added, smirking at the angel. "Our lowly human clothes not good enough for you?"
Castiel blinked, defining the teasing tone in Dean's voice but unsure of how to answer it. Eventually, he settled for, "I am grateful for everything the two of you have done for me. I hope one day to repay you."
"I think you already have," Sam replied, but Dean cut in.
"Great! There's a dinner in Oklahoma that does the best pie, fancy nipping down there to get one for me?"
Castiel arched one eyebrow at him. "Maybe later," he said flatly.
Sam rolled his eyes; Dean huffed. Singer folded his arms, looking from one to the other. "Joking aside, what's the plan? We still have the friggin' apocalypse on our hands, and no colt yet unless you boys have neglected to mention something."
Castiel nodded. "You're right," he said. He looked around the room at all of them, making eye contact with each man before continuing. "In your words, 'we got work to do.'"
Sorry this chapter was so short, but I really didn't feel like there was much more to say. It was mostly just to tie up the loose ends and set the boys on their next path... which is yet to be decided on. :D Thank you so much to everyone who stuck with this story and reviewed, you guys are the ones who helped me to finish it! Hope everyone enjoyed it.
P.S in the unlikely event of a sequel - nothing more to this story, but hey, why not? - I'll upload a preview chapter at the end of this story to alert anyone who's interested. Any ideas are welcome!