All wars end. Sometimes the good guys even win.

Dean knows he should be glad the seas aren't boiling or the skies raining fire or whatever other bullshit Raphael had planned to get rid of Dean and all of his fellow mud monkeys, but he's not in a celebrating mood. Not when Balthazar's just zapped his way back out of Bobby's kitchen, bristling with rage and grief. Not when he's just followed up the news that Raphael has finally been put down with the words Dean's been dreading since the first second he'd heard of this goddamned war.

"Cassie's gone, Dean," he'd said, drunk off his ass. "He's..." Dean remembers the angel had glared at him then, like it was all his fault. "He's lost to us." Then he'd flown off, leaving Dean to stew in that knowledge, that Cas had finally won his war but wouldn't be around to enjoy the victory.

Dean's never been a fan of Balthazar's, but Dean can credit him with one thing: heavy drinking is exactly what needs to happen right now. He goes straight for Bobby's hardest stuff, not wanting to waste any time getting too drunk to wonder how it had happened, if it had been a sword to the chest or if Raphael had burned him from the inside out, like Michael had done to Anna. If he'd seen it coming. If he'd had time to scream.

If he'd died alone.

Dean isn't sure Bobby has enough alcohol for this. He isn't sure the planet has enough alcohol for this.

His phone is ringing and Dean lets it go to voice mail; he's not up dealing with anyone right now. Well, that was his plan, anyway; after four times Dean finally cracks and snaps open the phone. "What?"

"Why aren't you answering your phone?" says a tired, frustrated, impossible voice.

Dean wonders if he's magically gotten himself plastered without taking a drink. "Cas?"

"Can you pick me up?" The words come out hesitantly, as if he's embarrassed. "There's no bus here. And I don't think they would let me on without money."

"Is that really you, Cas?" Dean's not ready to rule out that he's completely cracking up.

"Yes. I...Dean, please, it's very cold."

Dean already has his jacket on and is halfway to the door. "Just tell me where you are."

"I'm..." He sighs. "Wait." Dean hears him walking, steps crunching through what sounds like snow. "Five miles from Yoder, Wyoming." A pause. "I have no idea where that is."

Dean doesn't either, but he'll figure it out. "On my way. Is there somewhere you can wait?"

"No. There's nothing here."

"Then hold tight. I'll be there before you know it," he says before stepping out into the swirling winter wind.

888

Dean pulls up to find Castiel standing by the side of the road, arms crossed and shoulders hunched against the snow. He jumps out of the car so fast he doesn't bother closing the door. "Cas!" Cas turns around, closing his eyes in relief. Dean's beside him in a flash, hands on his arms; Cas is shivering, his teeth chattering and Dean's thrilled because that means he's alive. "Fuck, Cas, how are you here?"

"Why are you surprised? I asked Balthazar to tell you..."

"He said you were dead, Cas." Castiel's brows draw together in confusion and alarm, and Dean realizes his mistake. "Wait. No. He said you were lost."

"He's angry with me. He tried to talk me out of this."

"Talk you out of what? He..." Then it hits Dean, what's wrong with this picture. "Cas, why are you cold?"

"It was a condition of the surrender. They said I was caught between, that my priorities were crossed and I would have to choose. That there had to be a sacrifice."

"Choose? Choose what? I don't..." For a moment Dean doesn't remember how language works. Cas is cold. "Jesus. Cas." The enormity of it is staggering. "Why?"

"I told you once, Dean. I'd rather be here."

His voice breaks; Dean can see he's terrified by what he's done. His eyes are wide and snow is frosting over his hair and clinging to his eyelashes and Dean kisses him hard before he can say another word. He feels Cas' heart pounding as he presses against him and Dean will be damned if he ever lets him go. "C'mon," he says, not breaking the kiss so much as talking around it, "it's warm in the car." Cas nods and Dean grabs his icy hands, rubbing them to warm them up. "Let's go home."