"The remains have been disintegrated," the angel told them.
"Dean, are you okay?" Sam asked, still slightly afraid to let go of his hold on him.
"Think so," Dean replied, catching his breath. "Not cold anymore." Sam looked back up at Castiel and gave him a small nod of appreciation. Once Dean collected his bearings, he felt a bit awkward. "Dude," he squirmed, "You can let go of me, now..."
"Sorry," Sam released him and untangled himself from behind Dean, moving to stand beside the bed. "You're sure you're okay?"
"Yeah," Dean looked down at himself. "I look like crap, though... How'm I gonna explain all this to the ladies?" he smirked. Then he looked up at Castiel, who seemed slightly confused by the subject. "Thank you, Cas," Dean told him, in a more serious tone.
"Did you find out anything?"
The angel's eyes darted for a moment, before realizing what he was talking about, then met Dean's again. "Only that what's happened cannot be reversed," he explained. "Not without the possibility of causing even more damage to the wall."
"So what, we're supposed to just wing it from here on out?" Dean pushed himself back against the headboard, wincing slightly at the pain from his injuries. "Hope we don't strike a nerve that sets him off into another seizure?"
"I don't believe that will happen again, Dean," Castiel defended. "What happened recently, was because you dug too deep into the problem. Mere mentioning of something he may not remember, shouldn't set him off. When I told him about his year without a soul, there was no response of that nature."
Sam stood silently as the two argued. His eyes darted about in the air somewhere between them, still in a state of shock after almost losing his brother.
"What if there's something important, like something to do with hunting, that he doesn't remember because of this, huh?" Dean argued. "What are we supposed to do?"
"Research," Sam interjected. The two turned their heads to looks at him, inquisitively. Sam met Dean's eyes. "You quiz me, before each hunt," he explained. "It's not as if we don't have plenty of time driving to them, or sitting back at the motels. Whatever we're up against, you quiz me; make sure I know what to do..."
"And if you don't?" Dean asked.
"Then you tell me. No need to go deeper into it. Like Cas just said, if we don't dig into why I can't remember, then it shouldn't be a problem."
"Yeah, as if you can even help thinkin' too much into things," Dean quipped.
"I don't really have much choice in this, now do I?" Sam said, shortly.
Dean attempted to glare at him, but an involuntary twitch of muscle in his chest sent a shockwave of pain through him, and he clamped his eyes shut, unable to stifle a groan as his hand settled over one of the larger bite marks.
"Dean!" Sam was quickly at his side on the bed again; a hand on Dean's back, and the other on his arm. If Dean had had the strength in that moment, he'd have shrugged him off. Sam looked to the angel, "Cas, can you fix him?"
Castiel had already begun to approach the other side of the bed, before Sam had even spoken. "Of course," he replied, reaching a hand just a bit above Dean's, on his chest.
Within moments, Dean felt the pain disappear, and he let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding in. "Thanks," he said in almost a whisper. "Wasn't as bad as not bein' able to breathe. But it was startin' to get on my nerves."
"Some of those bites were deep enough that they'd bruised your ribs, Dean," Castiel stated. "You understate your own pain, most times. It often makes me wonder why..."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Dean replied, pushing off of the bed and heading toward the kitchenette to grab himself a beer from the fridge. Sam still sat on the edge of the bed, watching him, curiously. He knew that his older brother, most of the time, hid his emotional pain from him. But physical? "So we're just gonna wing this, basically," Dean said as he walked back toward them, handing Sam one of the beers he held in his hand. "That's what you're sayin', ain't it, Cas?"
"If there was any other way..."
"I guess I'm just a little worried," Dean interrupted the angel, "I mean, how long will it be before somethin' happens? I feel like there's this...ticking time-bomb in his head," he said; his eyes darting around somewhere in the air between the three of them as he sank down on the other mattress across from Sam. "Like it could go off at any time..."
Sam's eyebrows crinkled to almost meet in the middle, worried more about his brother's worries, than the subject at hand.
"There was a time," Castiel narrowed his eyes as he spoke to the eldest brother, "That you longed for even one more day with your brother." Dean looked down at the floor, avoiding both sets of eyes, yet wondering how on Earth Castiel would've known such things. "You think that I didn't hear your prayers?" Dean's head picked up a little, but he still didn't look up at him. "And do you think that I didn't long to answer them?"
Instant feelings of guilt washed over Dean, at the angel's words. "I...wish that I had more answers for you both," Castiel let out a defeated sigh. Both men looked up at him, noting the rare helpless look on the angel's face. "All I can promise you is that I'll do my best to find a way to help, if there is help to be found." Castiel picked his head up, glancing at them both. "But for now, I must go. I'm needed elsewhere. If you should need me...for anything that...I can be useful for..."
Dean stood and made his way over to him, setting his beer down on the table before putting a hand on the angel's shoulder, "You helped, tonight, Cas," he reassured him. "You always help us. I'm sorry if I made you feel like I...like we don't appreciate you. I'm just... I'm worried about Sam, is all. What happened...it wasn't your fault. You didn't know."
Castiel looked at him with regret, guilt and sadness that he shouldn't have been able to feel. "It is my fault, Dean," he thought. "If only you knew...If you knew why... You'd never forgive me..." With that last thought, the angel vanished, leaving them with only the soft sound of fluttering wings.
Dean's hand dropped, unceremoniously, from where it had been on Cas's shoulder, and he stumbled slightly backward at the sudden departure. He turned toward Sam, who seemed preoccupied with a loose thread on the cheap motel comforter. Then he picked up his beer and made his way back to sit on the mattress.
Sam looked at him as he sat, "You don't have to worry about me, Dean," he told him, softly.
"It's my job, Sammy," he replied, attempting to sound lighthearted.
"I shouldn't be your job," he retorted. "I should be your brother." Something unrecognizable flashed over Dean's face for a moment. "I mean...you heard what he said. Whatever time I have left..." his brows rose, "I'm not even supposed to be here. I made the choice to jump into the pit, Dean. The fact that I'm here...that I'm not plagued with what happened down there... Every day I get, is one I'm more that grateful for. I wouldn't have any of them, if it wasn't for what you did to get me outta there. But you can't spend the rest of our time together, worrying about when it's gonna end. And we can't keep searching and hoping for a fix for what's up here," he pointed to his head. "'Cause that's the one thing I don't think we could ever change." He gave a small smile at the thought, "If we could, I'm pretty sure we'd both be a hell of a lot better adjusted."
Dean's face relaxed some, and after a moment or two, the corner of his mouth turned up and he shook his head. But he still found it difficult to find any words to say.
Sam took in a breath and let it out, "Well...I dunno about you, but I've had more than enough of the Grand Canyon," he said as he kicked off his shoes and propped his legs up on the bed. "What say we get some sleep, then find a hunt and get the hell outta here in the morning?"
Dean did smile at that, "Sounds great, Sammy. I'm beat," he pulled off his boots and kicked back on his own bed. Once the lights were out, Dean stared up at the shadows on the ceiling as he thought. "Hey, Sam?"
There were a few long moments of silence, before Dean replied, "I love you..." "Just in case..."
This was followed by another few long moments of silence. "Uh...Dean?"
"We don't say that every night, do we?" Sam asked, a slight grin playing on his face that Dean couldn't see in this dark. But the silence that followed, made him start to wonder, and the grin slowly slipped away.
Suddenly, Sam was hit in the face with a pillow that'd been slung at him from the other bed, followed by a grunted, "Bitch..." from his brother.
Sam's smile returned, and he threw the pillow back, "Jerk."
Dean grabbed the pillow and turned onto his side facing away from his brother, a grin painting his own face, happy knowing that the important things hadn't been stuck on the wrong side of the wall.
Both of them settled in to sleep, thinking about what might lie ahead for them, and knowing that as long as they had each other, it would be okay. Dean couldn't allow himself to think about what would happen at the end of Sam's road. The end of Sam's, would mean the end of his. Of course he wouldn't stop worrying about his little brother. It wasn't just his job...it wasn't an obligation. He needed to protect Sammy...he had to. He wouldn't have it any other way. And if it came down to it, if Sam became a drooling mess someday, then he'd still be with him, taking care of him. The rest of his days would be spent finding a way to fix him, regardless whether anyone thought there was one to find, or not.
"...I love you, too," Sam told him, quietly, and with no hint of sarcasm behind it.
As much as Dean loathed touchy-feely chick-flick moments, this one was...actually kinda nice. Though, he'd never admit that to Sam. "G'night, Sam," he told him, sleepily.
A/N: I didn't think this would be the last chapter...but that's how it ended up lol. Sorry it took so long, once again! I hope you enjoyed it :)