A/N: I'm terribly sorry for having not posted this earlier. Now I'm sure no one remembers where we left off... Then read the story again!:) So here's the epilogue I promised, to end the story properly. Hope you'll like it!
Next morning finds him in one of Bobby's worn armchairs, apparently having fallen asleep. Dean cracks open his eyes only a little so that he can have a look around the room then blinks around with half-closed eyelids. The feeling he's experiencing is quite hard to define; he's comfortable and warm and sleepy, a bit like having a hangover without the headache, and suddenly finds there's no place more peaceful right now than Bobby Singer's old living room with the morning sunlight shining palely through the windows.
A moment later he realizes something's wrong. No, not entirely wrong, it's more like something's missing from his vision, like he should be seeing something he doesn't. Then it occurs to him.
The couch is empty.
For a second he's unsure about whom he should see on it, but as he opens his eyes fully and sits up, becoming more alert, he spots the person he has been looking for. Castiel is sitting on the edge of the couch, apparently trying to get dressed in the right way.
"Cas?" Dean croaks. "What are you doing?"
The angel frowns and looks up at him and everything is just so natural about his look. "I'm putting my shirt on," he answers matter-of-factly.
"Yeah, I see that," Dean rolls his eyes and almost chuckles at the sight of Castiel's 'why did you ask then' face. "The question is, how are you?"
"I'm fine," the angel replies, and before Dean could object, he goes on, "I really am. My system has finally overcome Cerberus' poison. My healing ability's almost fully back."
Dean feels relief taking over him. "Let me take a look then."
Castiel obediently lifts his hand to show the hunter his wrist, even letting Dean pull the shirt he has just gotten into, off him. There are four pink stripes on his back where the deep claw marks used to be and the wrist looks even better; only a couple of pale, reddish smudges indicate the spots where vicious teeth have once torn skin and bone.
"Wow, that's really good," the hunter admits. "That's what I call a quick healing, Cas."
The angel looks him in the eye with a serious expression. "I wouldn't have made it without your help. You even weakened yourself to give energy to me. Thank you, Dean."
Dean feels almost ridiculously abashed. "Yeah, well, anytime, Cas. You can count on me."
"That's good to know." The angel nods, but the blue gaze is still fixed on Dean. "However, there's one thing I don't really understand. You seemed like you… knew you could give me power. But this kind of information is one not everybody can give to you."
Dean knows right away there's no point in lying to Castiel, especially now that he has regained control over his powers. "Yeah well… I'm sorry, but we have been asked not to reveal their identity to you."
Confusion is clearly written on Castiel's face. "I don't understand. An angel has helped us, helped me, but still does not want to be known about?"
Dean's searching for the right words. "Let's just say that they haven't really figured out whose side to choose yet."
Castiel doesn't ask more questions, just looks in front of himself, getting lost in his thoughts, and Dean has a strong conjecture that he already knows who they're talking about.
"Alright then, you're good to go," the hunter claps and stands up. "Where're the others?"
He finds Sam in the kitchen, eating something that looks too much like a half-burned omelet.
"Have you seen Cas? He finally seems okay." Dean asks as he opens the fridge, looking for something less disgusting.
"Yep, he's been up since about an hour ago, thanks to the boost you gave him," Sam replies with a full mouth. "You can't tell me any news, sleepyhead."
"Do you think it really counted that much?"
Sam shrugs, swallowing. "Dude, I saw how bad off he was yesterday, and that your fingers were shining until you fell on the floor, sound asleep."
Dean scratches the back of his head. "Yeah well… I suppose I didn't realize I was getting tired."
Both Winchesters turn their heads and look in the direction of the familiar gruff voice.
"I think I'm going to need your help with the tie."
Sam merely raises an eyebrow at the sight in front of them. Castiel is standing in the door, fully clothed, although there's not a stain anymore on his trench coat and suit and shirt, and his hands are fumbling with a ridiculously giant tie knot at his neck.
"Whoa, wait," Dean hurries over to him. "You're gonna strangle yourself. Let me help."
"Thank you. For everything."
The tone of his voice raises suspicion in the hunter's mind. "Wait, you're not gonna fly off are you?"
Castiel, who has already half turned like he was about to leave, stops in the middle of the movement. "I have a mission."
"I know, finding God," Dean makes a frustrated motion with his hand. "But can't that wait a little? I mean, you're just out of the woods."
The angel looks at him with a somewhat confused expression, as if he wasn't sure he has heard it right. "I'm healed. My powers are back. You don't need to worry about me anymore."
"Come on, man, just half an hour."
Castiel's confusion only deepens. "What do you want to do in half an hour?"
Dean rolls his eyes. "Nothing, just kind of… be glad that you're back. We deserve a little celebrating, don't we?"
The angel looks away, considering the option for a moment. "Maybe."
"Let's make a deal," the older Winchester offers. "You stay for a little longer, and I'll give you some painkillers. Come on, don't tell me that two whole bottles of whiskey didn't leave your head without a little pounding at least, because I won't believe it."
Castiel stares at him for a moment then looks down, defeated. "Fine. But just half an hour."
"Half an hour. Deal."
There's a long absent smile appearing on Sam's face while Dean pulls a bottle of pills out of his pocket.
"I think God can wait that much," Castiel admits as he sits down at the table beside the brothers. The Apocalypse might be at the gates, God might be turning his back on them, but a peaceful morning with probably the only friends he has is more tempting at the moment than every problem of the world he's supposed to solve.
And deep down he knows he won't regret choosing the former over the latter this time.
Thanks to everyone who has been sticking with this story all the way; thank you for the wonderful reviews, for adding it to story alert/favorite stories. But don't worry, you'll be hearing from me soon, I have more stories to come!:)