Warnings: mild M/M, nightmares about Hell
Spoilers: If you know who Castiel is, you're probably safe.
Disclaimers: I do not own Supnernatural or any of its characters.
Word Count: 1,039
He sat in an open field, the green velvet grass stretching on for miles until it was beyond the eyes reach. The only thing to break the steadiness of the field was a single park bench. He couldn't recall if he'd found it, or if the bench had been placed there for him. He sat quietly on the chipped wood seat, staring out over the wavering flowers and the blue, blue sky expanding above like infinity. He felt similar to a fisherman, out on a small boat in the middle of the open sea.
Before he could stand up, the grass began to shiver, and the healthy emerald strands dimmed into a deep merciless red, and the blue sky became bleak and sickly grey before his eyes. The ground began to quiver, and Dean's first thought; an earthquake? But he knew the truth. The ground ruptured, the cracks slithering over the field like snakes, stretching out like veins. Steam rose from beneath, releasing the stench of putrid corpses, coppery blood and entrails, stale sweat and waste, pain and insanity. It bubbled up, climbing like spidery fingers reaching for him.
Dean. A voice said.
Dean. It said again, voice like a tin can scraping along asphalt.
It rose up, a shadow, blood sloshing down onto the ground from its body, the potent smell of decay strong on its breath. He could feel it smiling at him, the faceless creature coming to take him back, bring him back where he belonged. Already Dean could feel his guts being scoured, felt the blades and needles and fingers pry into his body, whispering foreign words of tempting evil into his ear.
He tried to run away, tried to wrench himself from the little bench and run faster than Forrest Gump ever could from his fate. But he found he could not move.
The world exploded around him, leaving nothing but himself and the rotting malevolent shadow, looming forward and encompassing him. Bringing him back. He tried to yell, but his throat was enclosed by an invisible force. He couldn't scream yet; not yet.
"Dean," said a voice. But it wasn't the grating voice of Hell; it was soft, melodious, velvet like the grass once beneath him.
With a vicious scream the shadow was sucked back into the ground, disappearing into the splinter like water down a drain.
Gradually, the squalid stink of Hell vanished, the sky brightened back into blue, the fractured ground fastened together, and the revitalized grass was once again green.
Dean felt great relief, and found that he could move again. The presence of Hell was still tight around his chest, sticking into his gut like a sharp, freezing ice pick.
Holding his stomach as if his innards would spill out, he turned to look over at his savior. He stood nonchalantly; arms limp and back straight, like what he'd just done had been nothing at all. He was watching Dean. Dean didn't want him to.
He felt a hot, frenzied tear escape his eye, and he could still hear the whispering: Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean, you belong with us.
Dean hid his face.
And Cas was on the bench beside him, touching his shoulder. He uttered Dean's name, and suddenly Dean heard himself speak. "I don't want to go back. I can't go back…"
The tears came hot and messy now, all at once and a violent shudder ran through his body. He kept talking, speaking incoherently like a mental invalid, quivering like a child caught in a storm.
Castiel caught his shoulders, bringing him close. He tucked Dean's head beneath his chin, held his trembling form steady. Dean could have cared less about his masculinity or his pride; he succumbed to the Angel's cradle, grabbing hold of the bicep supporting him.
"Is this a dream?" He heard himself ask.
"Yes. It's nothing but a dream. You're safe."
Dean's face crumpled, and he was glad Cas couldn't see him break. "No I'm not. That's where it all comes back."
Cas held him tighter.
"Will I go back to Hell?"
"No." His tone was affirmative, gentle but hard. "I'll never let that happen." Dean wasn't sure, but he thought he felt a small pressure in his hair, just above his temple, as if Cas had kissed him there. The reassuring weight of his chin leaning on Dean's head didn't waver. "You need to rest, Dean."
"I thought I was already asleep?"
"Sleep and rest are not the same things." There came an unexpected warmth, weightless and potent at the same time. A soft sensation, too tangible to be just air, too light to be a blanket, slid over his body. He opened his eyes, having no recollection of closing them, and saw a great supple blade of sheer white. He had to peer skyward to see the entire thing. Its shape held a resemblance to a half of the common, albeit false, perception of a heart. Layers of unbelievably pure, gentle white curved downward, not coarse enough to be feather, but too distinct to be cloud. It possessed immense power, but was framed so delicately they did not invoke fear. It fluttered softly, sheltering Dean. Protecting him.
"Those are your wings?" His voice was a hoarse, shaken croak. It sounded small, ugly, pathetic beside the vast magnificence of the wings.
He felt Castiel's hand move to the crook of his neck, but he said nothing.
"Cas," he whispered, wishing to tell him that he was absolutely beautiful, that Dean was truly sorry for anything he's ever done to him, that he was grateful for everything Castiel had ever done for him. But all the words were lost in a sudden lethargic serenity. Sleep, he recognized it as, but it was almost too peaceful to be sleep. He supposed it was rest.