Becky had just reached the best part of any break up. She had just gotten angry. She was through with crying, she was through with listening to depressing love songs. She wasn't going to waste any more time moping over some guy. Even if the guy in question was personally responsible for her favourite fandom ever. He had no right to treat her that way; she had done nothing but give. Chuck was clearly a jerk of epic proportions, and she needed to vent in the only way she knew how. She was writing a fic about it.

Chuck was blind, she typed into a fresh Word document. He was blind and an idiot. He could have had everything if only he'd realized what was right in front of him, but no – he was too scared. He couldn't even give up drinking for the sake of the woman who loved him. He couldn't handle true commitment, true love, because he was emotionally stunted. He was too afraid of his own feelings. Apparently, true love couldn't conquer all. Becky would have made him happy, but he was all, "I can't do this, I really care about you but there's stuff I need to do now. Without you. See ya!"

Becky read through what she'd just written. Not the finest piece of literature she'd ever produced, it was true, but it got the point across. The point being that Chuck had just happily abandoned her as if everything they'd been through together meant nothing. And Becky was so much more than just another Supernatural fan – she was a part of this. She knew the truth. Did that mean nothing? Had he just used her? It was time to break out the ice cream.

When Becky got back to her bedroom with a large tub of Haagen Daz strawberry cheesecake ice cream, it was to find an angel sitting on her bed, staring at her soft toy collection with something close to alarm.

It was testament to the sheer amount of crazy shit Becky had gone through over the past year that she didn't experience even a moment of alarm. "Castiel? You're… what are you doing here?"

The angel looks up at her. "What is the function of these?" He gestured towards the stuffed animals. "I mean, what purpose do they serve? If you are worshipping them as false idols, I feel I should inform you that not only is it a sin, but… there is no god or demi-god of the purple hippo."

Becky valiantly managed not to laugh. "No, they… they're just for… comfort, I guess."


"You know, when you're feeling sad or alone, they're like friends. You can cuddle up to them, and it makes you feel a bit better. And the best part is that they'll never leave you."

"May I try?"

"Um… sure."

Castiel picked a large pink fluffy duck out of the selection and hesitantly cradled it to his chest. His head tilted to one side in serious contemplation. "It does help a little."

"Castiel?" Becky said softly. "What are you doing here? I mean, I thought you'd have gone back. To Heaven."

"I did, but… but there are some things that… that are… I needed to… wanted to… I have these feelings now, and they're making something inside my chest hurt, and… and I was wondering if you could tell me how to make it go away." He looked so sad and mournful, and Becky figured that he needed the ice cream even more than she did. She handed him the tub and a spoon, and Castiel looked up at her, bemused.

"It's ice cream – eat it, it'll help some."

Castiel poked dubiously at the contents of the tub with the spoon. "It's cold."

"It's good, trust me."

Becky watched as Castiel started to eat the ice cream, cautiously at first, but then with positive gusto. Clearly, angels were not immune to the restorative powers of frozen dairy. It wasn't long before he'd finished the entire tub. "It was good," he said at length. "But it still hurts."

Becky sat down on the bed beside him. "What's wrong, sweetie?" she asked. Really, it was kind of ridiculous, calling one of God's warriors 'sweetie', but Castiel had such a bad case of the lost puppys going on that she couldn't help herself.

Castiel heaved a sigh. "It's Dean," he said heavily. "He's… he's at Lisa's."

"What?" Becky looked at him, outraged. "Lisa? But… but… she was only in one book! And they knew then that they weren't right for each other! He doesn't even know her!"

"He wants a normal life. He wants to be part of a family. He… he deserves it. After everything he's been through, I cannot blame him for wanting to forget about… everything. I should be happy for him, but… but my chest hurts and I'm restless and when I think about them together I want to hit something really hard."

"He's an idiot!" Becky says with feeling. "Everyone knows Lisa isn't Dean's true love! She's a distraction – he's not supposed to end up with the distraction. He's obviously meant to be with you!"

Castiel looked at her with wide eyes. "You think so too?"

"Duh! Everyone on the Supernatural fan forum has been talking about it for months. I mean, I've always been a Wincest shipper, but even I can see that you two are perfect together. You two are so ridiculously slashy, you don't even know."

"I don't… I don't understand. What's a shipper?"

"I… oh, never mind. The point is, you guys have some epic love going on, and Dean's supposed to be with you."

Castiel sighed. "He doesn't think so." He was still cuddling the duck.

"Yes he does." Becky gave Castiel's shoulder a little squeeze. "Look, you understand Dean Winchester better than anyone; your judgement's just been clouded because your feelings are involved. Now, what does Dean always do when he really, really wants something?"

"He pulls away," Castiel replied immediately. "He pretends not to care. He… he thinks he doesn't deserve to be happy, and he's too scared to even try because he's afraid he'll lose it, and he doesn't know if he's strong enough to cope with losing more than he already has."

"Exactly. And what has he done to you? Pulled away and pretended not to care. He doesn't want a normal life with Lisa – he'll never be satisfied with that. He wants you. You're his true love, Castiel! He just doesn't think that he deserves you."

Castiel looked at her, dawning hope in his eyes. "Do you really think so?"

"Please. No one has analysed the homoerotic subtext in Supernatural more than me. You've given him everything. You love him and he loves you."

Castiel grimaced. "Even if that were true… he'll never admit to it. How can I make him see?"

Becky thought for a moment. Then she grinned. "Oh, I think I know of a way." She went back to her laptop and deleted what she'd typed earlier that evening. There was a much better story that needed to be written.

Dean Winchester was beyond bored. He couldn't even remember what he'd done that week. Grocery shopping, watching TV, working at the garage where he'd managed to get a part-time job. It was getting harder and harder to forget that he was just play-acting here. This wasn't his life. He'd thought, after everything he'd been through, that normality would be what he needed, that it would give him peace, but now there was just this gap in his life. And it was more than just the guilt he felt over not being able to save Sam. He missed… God help him, he missed his old life. Lisa would never understand it, she would never be a substitute, and they both knew it. She'd gone with Ben to stay at her mother's for a few days. She'd said that it was a holiday for her son, but Dean knew that it was to get away from him. He'd managed to screw up again.

There was going to be a horror movie marathon on later, and Dean figured that he might as well stay up for that. But how was he going to pass the time till then? He wandered through the rooms of Lisa's perfect suburban home, not wanting to admit how much he missed the chaos of Bobby's front room. Was this really his life now?

He missed Sam so much. He was sneaking out to call Bobby every day, just to talk to someone who understood. They'd been going over theories, trying to think of some way to help his brother. Dean knew though that the only person who could really advise them was beyond their reach. There were so many things he wanted to say to Castiel; there was so much he had to regret. He just wished so badly that he could have realised before it was too late.

Dean switched on the computer. He thought he'd check his email, although no one messaged him these days. He'd probably end up surfing paranormal websites again, forwarding any likely-looking cases to Bobby. He just couldn't bring himself to stay away.

Only this time, he did have a message – a message from Becky Rosen, of all people. Frowning, Dean opened it.

Dear Dean, Becky had written. I found the last story Chuck ever wrote before he disappeared. I know how you feel about Chuck's books, but this one's about you, and I thought you might want to read it.

Becky x o x o

Dean looked at the email attachment, unable to explain why his heart was suddenly hammering. He felt like he was on the edge of something, like things were about to change forever. It was stupid, he reasoned, to get worked up like this over one of Chuck's stupid stories. It said a lot about his life now that he was this desperate for a little excitement. Still, he might as well read it – it wasn't like he had anything else to do.

Dean Winchester has been living a lie since his little brother fell into the pit. He's tried to deny it, but he longs for the old days of cheap motels and the open road. There's an ache in his soul for all he has lost. He'd promised that he would go and live a normal life, have a home, a family… but now he realizes that the only family he has is the one he left behind. The thing that really scares him though is that he can't stop thinking about his angel.

Dean swallowed; his mouth was suddenly very dry. How the hell had Chuck foreseen all this? And why hadn't the bastard warned Dean?

Dean is sitting in the living room of the house he's staying in – he can't kid himself that it's home. The loneliness is closing in on him. He wants so badly to talk to the one person who truly knows him. Castiel has given him so much – he has sacrificed everything for Dean. He saved Dean from damnation, healed him, restored him. He looked into Dean's soul, saw all the pain and guilt and fear, and he'd stood by him anyway. He loved Dean more than Heaven, and Dean loved him too. He knew that now, so why the hell did Dean turn him away? He knows that Castiel would have stayed if Dean had asked him to. Was it out of guilt because Castiel had already given so much? Was it because Dean still believes that he's not worthy, that he doesn't deserve to be loved by a creature of Heaven? Or was it fear? Fear of the implications attached to admitting he loved another man? Or fear of loving full stop, and all the risks that came with it? All of the above, most likely. It gnaws at him constantly, and nothing he can do will make him forget.

He closes his eyes, breathless, sick to the stomach at the thought of all he has lost. But then there is a shift in the air, like a surge of electrical energy, and Dean knows what it means but he's scared in case it's not who he wants it to be, or if he's fallen asleep and he's dreaming again.

"Dean." Castiel's voice sends shivers up his spine.

Dean turns around slowly. Castiel is standing there, and for a moment Dean doesn't recognize him. He's thought of the angel so often over the past weeks – he's struggled to remember every detail. The exact way Castiel's trenchcoat hangs from his shoulders, the line of stubble on his top lip, the exact blue of his eyes. He's remembered all the separate details so well that somehow seeing them all brought together confounds him. "Oh my God," Dean says weakly. "Cas…"

"I had to come back. I don't belong there anymore, I belong here with you. And this isn't where you belong, either. You know it. I have come to take you home."

There's something wrong with Dean's voice. He gets to his feet unsteadily and walks towards his angel, half afraid that if he gets too close Castiel will prove to be a mirage and disappear. He reaches out and touches the worn fabric of Cas's trenchcoat, and it's real, solid, tangible. Dean releases the breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding in a little gasp.

"Dean," Castiel says again, his voice heavy with meaning. Dean can feel his fingers tingling, and he makes himself look into Cas's eyes properly for the first time. The angel's looking at him like he's the only thing in the world. Dean realises for the first time that Castiel knows – he's always known. Dean had only ever had to say the word.

Castiel moves even closer, and Dean closes his eyes, hardly able to breathe at all now. Castiel touches cool fingers to his head and Dean feels a jolt of energy course through him. It doesn't scare him: he trusts Cas implicitly. When he opens his eyes again it's daytime and they're standing by a lake. The ground beneath their feet is covered with soft grass, and Dean sees that the lake is surrounded by tall pine trees. The air smells pure, like they're the first ones to breathe it.

"Where are we?"

"Eastern Europe. I've wanted to bring you here for a while; I thought you would like it." Dean feels Castiel's fingers hesitantly interlock with his. This is so delicate, so precious, and Dean is terrified. He keeps his eyes fixed on the cut diamond water of the lake.

Castiel takes hold of Dean's shoulder with his free hand and gently turns him around, and Dean knows there's no point resisting. The way Cas is looking at him makes him want to fall to his knees. "Dean, why do you think I abandoned my duty to Heaven? Why do you think I stayed here on Earth to fight? Why do you think I am here now? It's because this is where you are. My fate was sealed from the moment I pulled you out of Hell. I was afraid at first, but not now. You are my beloved, and I will always be with you."

"I don't deserve it," Dean chokes. Sometimes when he looks at Castiel, he thinks he can make out his true angelic form through his human vessel. Like he can almost make out the shadows of giant wings.

"Yes you do. You have given so much. You are the foundation that holds your family together – they fall apart without you. You taught me how to think, Dean. You taught me how to feel. Since the dawn of time, you are the only thing I have ever truly loved."

There's nothing left to say. Dean wishes that he knew the words to express how he feels, but he's not smart enough. Hell, he doesn't think that even Sammy could articulate something like this. So he grabs hold of his angel and shows him instead. He kisses Castiel the way he deserves to be kissed – fearlessly, passionately, with everything he has. The moment Castiel starts to kiss him back sends fiery darts of pleasure across his skin. They fall onto the ground, consumed by each other. It's as if touching is the only thing keeping them alive. It's as if –

Dean switches off the monitor, trembling. His palms are sweating. How the hell had Chuck known? He'd never seen that deeply into Dean's mind before. How had he accessed the secret place where Dean kept Castiel – those thoughts and feelings which were so painful and frightening and downright blasphemous that Dean kept them hidden away at all times? That son of a bitch. Dean closed his eyes tightly. What had been the point in writing that story? Was it just to torture him? Because this was one thing that would never come to pass. Castiel had never known what Dean really wanted, and he never would. He had gone home to Paradise where he belonged, and he was never—


Dean's scalp was prickling. That voice, that same voice that always made something in Dean's chest contract… God, if he looked and there was no one there…

Very slowly, Dean turned around. "Oh my God…"