Saying Goodbye

Don't own anything, or anyone. This is purely for fun. I am not making any money out of it, so please don't sue.

He woke up in a cold sweat. A week. That's all it had been, since Jo and Ellen blew themselves to Heaven in a shower of salt and nails. A week since he'd shot the Devil point blank in the head with the Colt. A week since he'd learned that the Colt wasn't the be all and end all in this war.

Dean glanced over towards Sam, still sleeping soundly. At least that meant Dean hadn't been shouting in his sleep this time. Just dreaming, although dreaming was bad enough.

He ran his hand through his hair, forcing himself to take deep breaths. It had been in vain, their deaths. Every fibre of his being cried out 'Murderer!' whenever he thought of them. He should've tried harder to get them to stay, but they'd needed a hand. He shouldn't have shot the first Hell Hound. He should have… he let his thoughts trail off. There was no point in wishing, and thinking 'what if'. Not now.

Throwing back the covers, he stepped out of bed, surprised to find he was shaky on his feet. 'Steady yourself, man,' he mumbled to himself, as he forced himself to walk to the small bathroom in the dingy hotel room.

He splashed water on his face, and stared at his own reflection in the mirror. Why was he alive? Shouldn't he have gone back to Hell for what he did? For causing their deaths?

He let out a breath he didn't realise he'd been holding, and looked away. When he finally looked back up, he saw someone standing behind him. He didn't even bother to turn around.

"What do you want, Cas? And how did you find me?" he asked gruffly. Castiel stood silently for a moment. "Bobby told me where you were. He's worried," he answered quietly.

Dean forced a laugh, "I've been in worse places; tell Bobby I'm fine."

Castiel took a step closer towards him, "They didn't die in vain," he said simply. Dean turned around. It was sometimes a refreshing trait about Castiel, that he simply said what he wanted to. Most times, however, it was not.

"They died, blew themselves to Kingdom Come, so we could kill Lucifer. In case you didn't notice, Cas, WE DIDN'T!" Dean belatedly realised that Sam was still sleeping, as he yelled. Castiel didn't even blink.

"We didn't know that the Colt wouldn't work. We found out that it doesn't. They died so you could get away." Castiel stated calmly. "And besides, we have work to do."

Dean narrowed his eyes, "Cas, it's 2am. I'm not going anywhere until the sun is up, at least. I'm human, remember? I do need sleep – we have had this conversation."

Castiel opened his mouth to say something, but Dean raised an eyebrow before he could. Castiel nodded, "You are right. I will return when the sun does."

Dean sighed, and looked back to the mirror. His own reflection haunted him, dark circles, a face that looked 10 years older than it should have. Castiel was gone by the time he looked back.

Shaking his head, he headed back to bed. Sleep wasn't hard to come by – he was bone weary – but he didn't want the dreams. Dreams… well, these dreams he knew were reality. Jo dying on Ellen's shoulder, moments before the bomb was set off. Ellen's parting words to the world… but why was he seeing it? Over, and over again?

Knowing that Castiel would hold to his word and reappear at exactly sunrise, Dean tried to clear his mind. Hoping this time, vainly hoping, that there would be no more dreams….

At least the dream started different this time. He was standing in the doorway of the Roadhouse, people flashing as though they were all ghosts. Dean stopped himself, for just a moment… they were all ghosts. Ash, Caleb, Isaac and Tamara, Gordon, Pamela, Rufus, Bela… and Ellen standing behind the bar. No one really seemed to see him, though, and Dean stepped forwards slowly.

The Roadhouse flickered, and suddenly he was alone in the room. Or so he thought.

"What are you doing here?" a soft voice asked from behind him. Dean spun, and in a first, he was lost for words. Jo… she stood there, not flickering, not flashing, looking all the while like she was alive…. Jo put her hands on her hips, giving that impatient, 'don't mess with me' look that came straight from Ellen.

"I, uh, I could ask you the same thing," Dean finally managed to get out. Jo smiled, if a little sadly.

"You won't let go, will you? You'll do the famous Winchester thing and keep blaming yourself until it kills you too," she stated. Dean opened his mouth to retort, but before he could, Jo was suddenly in his arms.

"You don't get it, after all this time – what is dead, should stay dead. I did what I did for you, and Sam… and the world. I don't have any regrets," she said softly. Dean held her close; she smelt of roses, strange that he'd never consciously picked up on that while she was alive.

"Is this even real?" Dean asked, "Is it all my head?" Jo laughed a little, "Just because something is all in your head, doesn't mean it can't be real."

Dean pulled back, trying to memorise every pane of her face. Jo let him look, staring back at him with a strange expression. "I don't have long, Dean. This is about the biggest favour I could have called in, and I had to use blackmail to get it," Jo said, with a touch of humour to her voice.

Dean laughed, "Jo… I love you… I guess I just never…" Jo cut him off with her hand over his mouth. "No, you don't Dean. And that's part of the reason why I cared so deeply about you – maybe, if things had been different, you could have come to love me, but now… now you're just convincing yourself that you loved a memory. That maybe, my death would seem more than just a casualty of war to you if you had loved me…

"Truth is, I cared about you, but I didn't love you, not like you think I did. Just don't forget me, and you were right; we will meet again one day."

Dean forced a laugh, "Sooner or later, yeah, I hope so…"

Jo grinned, "Make it later, and there's no going back to hell for you…"

Dean looked away, a lump forming in his throat. "I wish… I wish things had been different between us, that maybe you had taken me up on that offer the night before…"

Jo laughed, easily the most pure thing Dean had heard since his mother's laugh, "And you would have lost all respect for me! Things work how they should… stay alive for as long as you can, and when you go – you make sure you take as many of those sons-of-bitches out with you as you can!"

Jo flashed once, and Dean felt a moment of panic. She smiled, however, and moved closer. They didn't say another word, just leaned in and shared one last kiss. It wasn't a passionate, this is all of my world, kiss, just a simple, soft goodbye, much like their one in the store had been.

When Dean opened his eyes, he was back in his bed at the hotel. He sat up, looking at the clock. Half an hour or so until sunrise.

"Well, it's about time you decided to stop snoring!" spoke a voice from the foot of the bed. Dean had his knife in his hand before he realised who it was.

"Gabriel… what do you want now? More games? More entertainment?" Dean said gruffly. Gabriel, the Trickster, grinned. "Such little trust you have in me, Dean! There is no game, not this time. You have my word. I was however, expecting a 'thank-you' at least."

"What for?" Dean asked suspiciously. Gabriel laughed again, "For your little goodbye time, of course! What, did you think Castiel organised that for you? No… I felt sorry for you, and her… Hellhound… what a way to go…" he glanced at Dean's face, "Oh, I'm sorry – I forgot, you know all about that…"

Dean stood up, "What do you want? A thank-you? Thanks, there, you've got it. Now get the hell out."

Gabriel laughed again, "You will never learn, will you?"

Dean crossed his arms, "Learn what?"

But Gabriel was gone, leaving a very confused Dean standing in the middle of a cheap hotel room, debating everything that had happened.

Dean pulled the covers back from Sam, shook him roughly awake, and opened the front door just as Castiel was about to knock.

"Let's do this," he said feeling for the first time as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Castiel looked at Sam, quizzically; Sam only shrugged. Looked as though Dean was back to normal… for now….