Title: The Guilt of Still Being
Chapter: One
Summary: Castiel and Risa survive Lucifer's trap in 'The End' by the skin of their teeth, only to discover there was a reason he let them go.
Rating: T
Disclaimer: 'Supernatural' was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is intended.
Notes: Stepping back into the 'The End' 'verse again for a short while.


Go, go, go!

Castiel thought that to himself as he ran and kept running, fully prepared right now to die on this reckless mission, because what else could possibly happen? He heard his own voice, shouting, whooping and laughing, and was determined to go out with the biggest bang possible. If Dean wanted a diversion, he'd give him a diversion and the longest one he could. Risa kept pace with him, though she was silent as they ran, giving him annoyed glances. She apparently didn't share his frame of mind at present.

They were the fastest of the team, either that or the luckiest, for they managed to outpace the Croats and slip through an opening.

With each near miss he felt a high and riding on that high, he headed to the outer doors at the back of the building. Upon his running exit from the building, with that exhilarating thrill circling through his body, Castiel was unprepared for the sight of Dean lying still on the ground in the garden. He came to a skidding stop, unable to understand what he was seeing at first. His stomach lurched and he thought he was going to throw-up, swallowing back those heaves.

He'd had a hope that maybe, just maybe, this plan of Dean's would work and they'd actually beat Lucifer. The thought had bolstered him slightly, given him the little extra oomph to keep moving. He'd imagined Dean standing over Lucifer's dead body, a victory they'd wanted for so long. He'd thought maybe Dean would even be glad to see him alive. He'd thought he could bear being human if they could only win. It wouldn't get him back all he'd been, but to win against Lucifer….

This though…. He couldn't process it. Dean's head was at an unnatural angle, his body limp.

Risa barreled through the door behind him, slamming into him and sending them both sprawling. They fell in a tangle of arms, legs and weapons, Risa immediately rolling, scrambling to Dean and dragging him to her.

"No, no, ooohhh nooo…." The moment she moved him, it was apparent that his neck had been broken, his head lolling back. That was why his head had been at that funny angle. "Dean!" She shook her head. "No, no, it can't be, no, he's not dead, he's not dead…."

The sounds of their pursuers grew louder and some sliver of self-preservation reared up, coming to life inside him. How could he want to live, when he didn't want to live? He got to his feet and pushed forward, grabbing hold of Risa's jacket as he passed her. For the space of a few seconds, she was a dead weight in his hands and then she was moving with him, letting him drag her along.

They took his vehicle, abandoning the others, tires screeching. He expected Croats to surround them and block them, but apparently, Lucifer had accomplished what he'd planned and didn't care if the team Dean had brought was dead or infected.

Dean Winchester was dead…and there was no hope remaining.

They drove the hours back to the camp in shocked silence, staying silent until he parked just down the road from the entrance. We need to prepare ourselves, he thought. We need to decide how much to tell them.

"It's going to be chaos in there when we tell them Dean's dead," Risa said, voice quivering with emotion.

Castiel wondered if she'd actually had feelings for Dean. He thought maybe she had. "Yes." When people didn't have a clear leader, bad things tended to happen and without Dean, there was no leader.

"Maybe it'd be best not to remain here."

He turned his head. She was twisting her hands together over and over.

"What do you think, Castiel?" She looked at him, shrugged, and peered down the road. "We get out before some yahoo declares himself leader and screws us all?"

"What are you suggesting, Risa?"

He'd known she was fully capable of manipulating to get what she wanted and, as they sat there, he saw the decision to manipulate him in her eyes. It was mixed with some of the desperation he knew was in his own gaze all the time anymore. She was going to use her feminine charms to sway him to do what she wanted and they both knew that he was going to let her. He almost smiled at how predictable he'd become.

A pretty face, a willing body against him. One or the other would do. Both was always a bonus.

She moved close against him, turning on the seat. One hand rose to caress his cheek before sliding back to the nape of his neck, fingers curling in his hair. Her other hand landed on his knee and did a slow, seductive tour to rest high on his thigh. Another two inches and she'd be actively groping his crotch. Risa leaned forward, breath hot against his ear. "We go back, pack up what we can - food, clothes, weapons, and all the essentials - and ditch camp. Without Dean, we both know it's going to fall apart. He was the one kept it all together."

"We leave together?" He dropped one hand off the steering wheel to cover her hand. "Just you and me?"

Risa was both pretty and apparently willing to give him her body if he'd go along with her wants. With Dean gone, he had no one left in the camp that he honestly cared about. People he knew, yeah, but none he truly cared about. Dean had been the one he loved. He could leave and not leave anyone behind. But why was she so desperate to go? Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her lick her lips.

Castiel felt numb, drained of emotion, and very, very tired, his thoughts not quite as clear as they should be for his un-drugged state.

"I think two can survive easier than a group. I mean, not to brag, but we're both good. We both know how to find supplies. Dean taught us everything he knew. We can do this…Cas." She pressed her mouth to the spot directly in front of his ear, flicking her tongue along his skin.

Now he got the shortened name treatment, an attempt at creating a far more intimate relationship than they really had. "If we're so good, why don't we lead the camp?"

"With all of the people I've pissed off and the ones you've screwed one way or the other? Would that really be a good idea?"

She had a point. There were plenty of people there who wouldn't look him in the eye during the day, but knocked on his door at night, too ashamed to admit what they were doing and what they wanted him to do. In a calculating bit of his own, he removed his hand from hers and placed it on her own thigh, imitating that seductive movement she'd used. "If we do that, leave together, abandon them all…." He turned his head, mouth a fraction from hers. "Tit for tat, Risa."

"I'm not a tease."

"Yes, you are."

Drawing back, she frowned. "Did Dean tell you that?"

"No, but if you think you're going to manipulate me into doing what you want with a promise of sex and then brush me off when we're out of the camp…." He shook his head. "Why me? Why not one of the other men in there?"

"Why not you?" She shrugged. "You want the truth?"

"It'd be nice."

"I'm asking you because I know you're the kind of guy who cares if a woman is satisfied. I'd hate to spend weeks or months with some selfish jerk only concerned with whether or not he gets off."

"I can see how that would be…frustrating." It still wasn't the truth, but he'd let her insist it was. He slid his hand up her leg the inches she'd yet to move hers on his, resting his hand there against her, watching her closely. While she let out a soft gasp, she didn't move. "See, Risa, I don't mind being manipulated by a fine piece of ass such as yourself, but for this plan of yours to work, we have to trust each other."

"And you don't trust me? Castiel, I just had your back against a bunch of Croats -"

"That has nothing to do with it. That's not the trust I'm talking about."

She lifted her hand from his leg and pointed in the direction of her lap. "I'm sitting here with your hand on my crotch. That's not trust?"

"It's a start."

Risa was confused now, shaking her head. "I don't…understand."

"I don't trust you for the sex, Risa. The other stuff I do trust you on, as much as I trust anyone that's not Dean."

She pushed away from him, back onto the other side of the seat. "What do you want?"

"First, I need to know exactly what you're offering mixed in with that plan. Are we talking a one-shot roll in the hay, or get it when I want it? See, it's important to have a good idea so I know what to bring. I mean, if you're not putting out, then really Risa, I see no benefit of going with you."

"I'm offering companionship."

He laughed. "Now that's a tricky word. In one context it means friendship. In -"

"I mean sex included, okay?" She swallowed, wiping her hands on her thighs. "I'll put out as much as you want, when you want -"

"Yeah, why is that? Why are you so hot to leave camp?"

She stared at him, a glimmer of fear growing in her eyes. "Because I don't want to be there trapped behind the fences when Lucifer comes for us. He is coming for us. Why else did he let us go?"

"What makes you think he…." He squeezed his eyes shut with a groan. Too easy. Their escape had been too easy. Lucifer hadn't just let them go, he'd let them go for a reason. He pounded the steering wheel with one hand. "Damn it! I should have seen it! He let us go to lead him back here!" Castiel put the vehicle into drive and jammed his foot onto the accelerator. The back end of the truck fishtailed a moment before righting. "You could have said something."

"I thought you knew. I thought you were playing dumb to make me negotiate what you wanted. Jesus, Cas, you were with Dean for how long and you didn't figure that out?"

He wondered just how long they had before Lucifer and his Croats arrived to slaughter the camp. "We get in, you grab weapons and ammo. Forget clothes, I doubt we have time. We can always find more on the road. I'll get some food."

As they approached the gates, Risa cleared her throat. "Do we tell them he's coming?"

"Would it be kinder not to?"

She hugged herself. "No, but if we tell them, there's no way we're getting out of there. They'll close the gates and try that medieval defensive walls shit. We'll be trapped."

Castiel made a decision right then that caused a trickle of shame inside him. When he spoke, his voice was thick. "We'll tell them Dean sent us back for more supplies. We had to go further than we thought and we're rendezvousing with him."

"We lie?" Risa's eyes were very wide when he glanced at her.

"You did say you don't want to be trapped here. Any better idea?"

She didn't answer.

The lie was a surprisingly good one. Using the words 'Dean said' brought instant results without question. It had a team scrambling to shove supplies - those things he and Risa would need - into the truck and while they did that, Castiel went to his cabin. He had some food and some medicines on the shelves. It wasn't much, but it'd help.

He found five women waiting, stretched out together in a tangle of limbs upon his bed. With a glance at each one, he went to his stash of pills, searching for one in particular. His hands shook as he found it and opened the bottle. Would it be kinder to let them die the way they would when Lucifer arrived?

No. This was better. It'd save them pain.

He poured pills into the palm of his hand, thinking he'd give each double what he himself took. For their weight, it wouldn't take long. Tears welled in his eyes.

I'm killing them, he thought. I'm murdering them.

He closed his hand around the pills.

I'm saving them.

He blinked away the tears and turned to face them, pasting on a gentle smile.

They trusted him, each taking the pills he handed them, swallowing them with some of the vodka in the bottle by the couch. Castiel kissed each one, told each she was beautiful, and promised he'd spend plenty of time with them when he returned. They laid back down, watching while he threw a few things into a bag. If they questioned his need for condoms, none of them said a word.

Maybe it was expected of him. Food, clothes, gun, ammunition, condoms…. All a part of Castiel's survival kit. Or maybe they assumed he had something going with another member of the team that had gone out.

He took what little food he had on the shelves and shoved it into a bag. As he went out the door, he dropped pill bottles into the bag as well and zipped it shut. There wasn't time to do a thorough search for his favorites. He'd have to make-do with what he'd grabbed until they could find a source for more.

He didn't look back.

Risa was waiting at the car, shifting her weight nervously back and forth from foot to foot, her arms crossed over her chest. The back of the truck was stuffed with items. "I thought you said no clothes."

"It's not clothes. I had to take care of a few people." He stepped close, opening the driver's side door and placing the bag inside.

Her glance turned to his cabin. "Cas…." She knew as well as anyone that he had something of an 'open door' policy for his cabin. Anyone was welcome, any time. She'd realize there were people inside and maybe she'd even realize what he'd done to spare them from Lucifer.

"Get in the car, Risa."

"Did you -"

"Are we going or not?" He leaned over very close to her. "Because if we're not, I'll go back inside, down a few pills to go to happy land, and you can go meet Lucifer at the gates."

Her hand grasped his, squeezed, and released it. "We're going." Risa got in the passenger side and slammed the door.

He was the one who drove them away from the camp, through the outpouring of wild game and other animals that came from the woods around them. There were deer loping towards the woods by the camp, the sides of the road alive with the smaller creatures, all fleeing towards the camp.

"We should turn around, go the other way," Risa breathed. "They're running from something."

They were heading right towards the coming Croats. It was they that sent the animals running. "We'll take right or left at the fork depending on which direction they originate from. Put your seatbelt on. This won't be a smooth ride much longer."

As they approached the fork, they began to see people running after the animals. Croats.

"What do we do if they're coming from both directions?"

"Pull a 'u' and floor it." A few minutes later, that was their only option. Lucifer had an army of Croats coming towards them. The vehicle skidded sickeningly on loose gravel as he cranked the wheel to turn them. For a second, he thought they were going to roll, but the truck stayed upright.

They took the long way around the lake, tension rising between them. He thought he could almost hear screams in the air….

"Where do we go," Risa asked.

"Away," he replied. He had a vague idea where to go, but he'd need to look at a map to plan a route. He knew there was one somewhere in the back. They'd plan a route, stick to it, find a place to rest. Then they'd decide what to do.

"You have something in mind?"

"Maybe."

She seemed satisfied with that answer, leaning her head back and sighing.

They spent the night in a barn, with the truck in the lower level and the barn door jammed shut to keep things out. The barn was cleaned of hay and animals, though the scent remained of the animals. From the hayloft, they could see the immediate area.

How could a world in chaos look so peaceful?

Castiel unrolled the sleeping bag he kept in the back of the truck and laid it in one stall. Their jackets would have to be pillows.

Risa stepped in the stall, handing him a canteen. "Water?"

"Thanks." He drank his fill, then handed it back. "Any food that doesn't need cooking?"

"There's a can of SPAM on top in one box."

"That'll work."

"Cold," she asked with a grimace.

"You're going to be picky now?" He fished his lighter out of one pocket and tossed it to her. "Singe it with that."

Risa made a face at him and tossed it back. "I'll eat it cold, thank you."

Whoever had packed the food had included two camp plates, the kind that broke down for storage and could be used as pans if necessary. They shared one plate rather than using both, Risa barely eating.

He knew she was watching him, couldn't really escape from it, and waited for whatever was on her mind.

"What did you do to those people in your cabin?"

"I made them not care anymore."

"You killed them?"

"Not exactly. They swallowed a few pills and went to sleep, Risa, and when Lucifer got there, they were already gone."

She looked away. "I don't think I could have done that. Shooting Croats is one thing, but that…."

He set the plate aside and leaned back on his hands. "What do you think you did when you got in that truck with me and left the camp?"

Risa shook her head. "It's not the same, Castiel. I didn't murder them."

"Did you tell anyone he was coming for them?"

"No."

"Then you murdered them, same as I did. We're both guilty of handing all of them over."

She drew her legs up and wrapped her arms around them, resting her chin on her knees. "I hadn't thought of it like that."

"No, I don't suppose you did." He took care of the plate and the trash from the slight meal, making sure they were packed and ready for morning, casting a glance back at Risa in the stall. Her back was to him. She'd taken her jacket off and appeared to be shivering. Or maybe she was crying. He gave her the privacy, looking over the items they'd been given.

Gas can. A couple boxes of food that needed little preparation. Weapons and ammunition. Wedged down between two boxes he found a rolled up blanket and first aid kit. Castiel suppressed a smile. Of course the people had packed well. They thought it was for Dean. Anything for Dean, who saved them from a world gone mad.

Dean.

He sobbed, then gulped in a breath and held it until the urge to cry passed. Later he'd cry, but not now. Now they had to be quiet and crying the way he wanted was going to be loud and messy. Going to the passenger side, he leaned in and snagged one of the bottles of pills in the glove compartment. Castiel shook out two pills and dry swallowed them. Give him a short while and he'd be drifting nicely.

As he approached Risa she looked up at him. "Do you think they're all gone?"

"Yes. Some quicker than others." Kneeling behind her, he took the clasp from her hair and set it aside. When he placed his hands on her shoulders, he found them tense, the muscles tight. He rubbed them, gently at first, then harder, digging his thumbs in as the muscles released the tension. Gradually, Risa leaned back against him. Later, he knew they'd have sex in the dark. It'd be tender and slow tonight, both pretending they were half asleep, and both crying.

How did he know? Because it was human nature to want to reaffirm life after escaping death and they'd certainly done that twice today already. As for the tears…. Everything they'd learned to live with was gone. What had passed for normal was shattered.

"We should be dead, too."

"And yet we live." He pressed a soft kiss to her shoulder, sliding one hand down her arm.

"Will he come after us?" She turned to face him. Her cheeks were damp.

"I doubt it," he told her. "He doesn't really have to, does he? Where are we going to go, Risa? The planet is his. What pockets of civilization there are live in fear of Croatoan and the larger the group, the greater the fear. We can run and keep running, but eventually we'll be his."

He brought two glow sticks to the sleeping bag and with them on, the growing dark in the barn and outside didn't seem quite so dark. He could almost pretend that they were on a mission from Dean, holing up for the night before continuing on in the morning. Perhaps if he pretended it was so, if he pretended Dean was still alive….

Don't go down that road, he told himself.

They didn't talk and after awhile, when darkness had fallen completely, Risa shinnied out of her clothes, carefully folding them and laying them to one side. She stood naked a moment, then slid inside the sleeping bag. When she closed her eyes, she seemed a far cry from the woman from earlier in the day. That woman had been confident and determined. This one was scared and dispirited.

He stood and removed his own clothes, folding them like she had hers, before joining her. She pressed against him, mouth finding his, her hands cold against his back. As an afterthought, he reached behind him and covered the glow sticks with his shirt, bringing the darkness fully upon them. Risa shuddered.

Castiel lost himself in her.


They shouldn't have survived.

Risa cried quietly to herself, her face pressed to her knees and jeans soaking up her tears. Behind her, she could hear Castiel looking through the supplies they'd been given. She'd thought there'd be no shame or guilt in doing what she had to to survive. She'd thought a lot of things, most of which had turned out to be false.

There was shame.

There was guilt.

They'd left those people to die.

She wondered if any of them had cursed her or Castiel when they died. Had they realized Cas and Risa lied to them? Had they told Lucifer two were missing from their number? Would he keep coming for them until he found them?

She and Castiel…. Partners in crime.

He didn't think Lucifer would bother coming after them. She hoped he was right.

Castiel brought her a glow stick, one of the small ones that wouldn't last long, but would be enough to keep the darkness from feeling suffocating. He bent it and shook it for her before doing his own and joining her by the sleeping bag. She studied him out of the corner of her eye.

How soon until he went into withdrawal from those drugs he took on a regular basis? Risa thought that maybe she had until tomorrow at the longest - unless he'd grabbed some of them. Maybe that's what he'd really been doing at the car. Maybe he'd popped a few pills and would be good to go for a few hours longer.

It wasn't a secret that he popped pills. He didn't seem to care who knew.

She knew that later, in the dark, she'd let him inside her. She'd close her eyes, press her face to his shoulder, and for once she wouldn't let his lifestyle bother her. The way he'd lived in the camp no longer mattered, did it? It was the two of them now. His life was her life and vice-versa. They were linked together. She was going to let that emotional link become a physical one.

Later wasn't much later, but Risa was tired and beginning to feel the effects of the day in the fuzziness of her thoughts and the weariness of her body. Exhaustion made her feel slow and clumsy. She stripped off her clothes, tried to pretend she was relaxed and comfortable with Castiel's gaze on her nudity, and slid into the sleeping bag.

When he joined her a few minutes later, she was surprised by just how much she needed him.