I have no idea where this came from. I just felt like writing something, so I did, and this is what turned out. O.o

Feedback is deeply appreciated! Like, seriously. Reviews bring joy to my life! :)

And for those who are wondering about my fic "Of Witches and Whiskers", I won't be posting a new chapter. I decided to break it up into two different stories. So be on the lookout for that!

Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. If I did, Cas would be in every episode of season 6.

Sometimes Dean forgets that Cas(tiel) is an angel. And yes, he knows that may seem a little hard to imagine, because forgetting you have an angel of the Lord on your side seems impossible. But Dean is good at doing the impossible, and so whenever Cas gets injured he patches the angel up knowing that in a few minutes the wound would have healed itself. But Dean doesn't like standing around watching Cas bleed so he sits the angel down and makes himself useful. If Cas is bothered by Dean's actions, he doesn't show it. He simply sits there quietly, staring at Dean with those old, old eyes of his.

Sometimes Dean wonders how much Cas has seen with those eyes.

What things do angels see? Do they see stars for what they really are? What is it like to be able to take in the full brightness of the sun? To see the entire world and to know all of its secrets? Even though Dean doesn't seem like the type of person who thinks about these kinds of things, he does, and even more so now that the apocalypse is in full swing. To see what an angel does…it must be amazing. And every day, every single goddamn day, Dean thinks about one tragic fact that keeps him awake at night as his insides are chewed up by guilt.

Cas gave all of that up. For him.

He gave up his home, his life, his very existence for Dean. Without complaint he raised him from Hell, pieced his soul together, and protected him. He still does, and even more fiercely now that his grace is fading.

Which is, of course, Dean's fault.

Dean blames himself for a lot of things. He blames himself for what has become of Sam. He couldn't keep his brother safe, and now he's turning into something that Dean doesn't know how to handle. He doesn't think he can handle it. On top of that, Cas is getting weaker and weaker as the days go by. Healing takes him a great deal longer than normal, he can't exorcise demons with just the touch of his hand, and zapping from place to place tires him out. And true to Dean's nature, he feels that he is responsible for that. He's the reason why Cas is living like this, down here with a bunch of humans instead of his family.

Sometimes, in the darkest hours of the night, Dean dreams of what Cas' home must look like. He dreams that it's white and pure and everything holy and good. He dreams of contentment and peace, and of a love that fills up everything. And sometimes he dreams of Cas in his true form, bright and shining and soaring through the sky. He dreams that Cas is happy. And then he dreams that Cas is falling, falling so fast and then everything is black and red and the peace is swallowed up by mournful howls and unearthly screams. The light fades into a blackness so deep that Dean looses himself. He looses his soul. He dreams of Cas, blackened with the hate of Hell and weakened by the hate of his brothers. There's so much hate that Dean chokes on it. And Cas is in the middle of it all, crushed under the weight of his family's distaste.

Once again, Dean's fault.

It's Dean's fault that Cas can't go home. It's his fault that any angel will try to kill Cas on sight, simply because of the side he's chosen. It's all. Dean's. Fault. And nothing will ever change that.

So when Dean dreams about Cas in Hell, surrounded by demons and angels alike, he feels the familiar burn of guilt the next morning when Cas shows up in the motel room, disheveled and worn out from his search for God. The fact that he does show up calms Dean down a little.

Because in his dreams, Cas always dies.

Not in the normal way angels do. There are no flashing lights from his eyes and mouth and no wings of ash. The demons put him on the rack and torture him. They bind him to his vessel and do horrific things to him, things that make Dean shudder. The angels laugh at him and tease him, and when the demons are done and Cas is good and bloodied, his brothers and sisters heal him and then they torture him. They never touch him, though. They use their words. They speak of their home and sing the chants and hymns that he grew up around, their melodic voices mocking and shaming him. They tell him how much their Father hates him and how much of a disgrace he is to their Creator. Cas hangs his head, every time, as they pick him apart piece by piece, and Dean believes that their torture hurts Cas more than any external pain can.

The worst of it is that Cas never makes a sound.

Yes, his expressions speak volumes, but he doesn't utter a word or sound. Even when the demons are carving out his intestines and jumping rope with it, he maintains his silence, straining against his bonds as his blood spills onto the damned ground beneath him. Even when his brothers and sisters are singing and he wants nothing more than to lift his unused and weary voice with theirs, he refrains. He always keeps quiet, right until the end.

The end is always the same. The end is Michael.

He comes to stand in front of Cas, stoic and silent, the deadliest warrior of Heaven, the number one defender of God's throne. There is nothing in his eyes, no pity, no hate, just a simple and blank look that Dean would sometimes get when following his father's orders. A tiny sound escapes Cas' throat because he knows what's coming next and suddenly it's like a dam breaks and he's babbling and staring at his brother pleadingly, his eyes bright and wet.

"Please, I can repent, Michael, don't do this please –"

Michael drives his hand through Castiel's chest and grips his brother's grace tight. Cas' whole body jerks, his wide blue eyes locked onto the steely green pair before him, unable to move or utter a sound as Michael literally holds his life in one hand. Michael tightens his grip and Cas shudders and chokes as his grace strains and wavers in his brother's unyielding grip. His eyes roll up into the back of his head and his body tenses. With one jerk Michael tears out Castiel's grace and watches as it trickle through his fingers like water and disappears.

Jimmy's head lolls forward and his body falls limp, his clouded blue eyes staring lifelessly ahead.

That's when Dean wakes up. He supposes this would be considered a nightmare to some people, but for Dean it's actually preferred. And he feels bad for that, he really does, because Cas is his friend and he can't stand seeing him hurt like that, even if it isn't real. There is nothing pleasant about that dream.

Except for the fact that it's not Dean.

A huge part of Dean feels selfish about this, but it hurts so much more when he dreams of himself on the rack and Alistair's cruel laugh and twisted smiles. He doesn't want to remember that. He doesn't want to remember getting his insides split open and put on display for him, he doesn't want to remember the crunch of his bones or the taste of his own stomach acid. He just wants to forget. And when it comes to Cas, he forgets.

"Dean, why do you continue to do this?"

Dean acts like he doesn't hear the question and he continues to bandage the gash on the pale skin before him. Idly he wonders if Jimmy's skin can tan.

"I will be healed shortly. I don't understand why you do this and I would like to know."

Dean sighs and rolls the angel's sleeve back down. He rises from his squatting position, aware of the fact that Cas never takes his eyes off him. He's used to it by now. It actually reminds him of Sam. Back when the sasquatch was dwarf-sized, he would always watch Dean to figure out what he should be doing. Dean chalked it up to a big brother and little brother kind of thing. Obviously this is different. Cas is certainly not a naïve little six year old and he definitely doesn't need to watch Dean in order to function properly.

Sometimes. On his good days.

Point is, Dean doesn't know why the hell Cas stares at him like that. Like they have something other than the simple partnership of two people being forced together by circumstances they can't control. And Dean supposes they do, because pretty much everything in their lives can't ever be considered normal. But sometimes, Dean catches Cas looking at him differently. And it's obvious to Dean what that look means, because he's given it to Sam countless of times. But Castiel really couldn't consider him as a type of brother, could he? Dean is…human. Flawed. Mortal. Downright stupid at times. To think that Cas sees him as anything other than an ally is absurd. Right?

"I don't know, Cas. It's simple. You bleed, I patch it up. End of story."

Cas frowns, clearly not amused with Dean's tone. He doesn't say anything else, and Dean starts to pack up the first aid kit.

"We don't bleed in Heaven."

Dean stills and shoots a glance at Castiel, who is staring fixatedly at him, a thoughtful yet calculating glint in his eyes. He's thinking about something. Hard.

"We do not 'patch' each other up. We are self healing, and to suggest that we would need help with such a simple task is thought to be insulting." Cas pauses, still staring at Dean, who has visibly stiffened since the angel opened his mouth. "We do not give each other nicknames, determine authority based on age, nor do we put ourselves in harm's way to save someone that is fully capable of taking care of themselves. You do all of these things without thought," he concludes, still staring at Dean, obviously awaiting a response. Dean finally throws one shoulder up in a half shrug.

"So? That supposed to mean anything?"

Castiel's expression remains blank for a few seconds, but then his eyes widen in understanding and he tilts his head at Dean, the faintest ghost of a smile on his lips.

"It means that you are by far the strangest brother I have."