Rating, warnings and summary can be found at Chapter 1.


EPILOGUE

The sun was comfortably warm on Dean's face. A soft breeze blew through the trees stretching over his head, rustling the leaves. It was peaceful, and he felt he could lie here forever.

Sam groaned somewhere beside him. Dean opened his eyes a sliver to see hints of clear sky through a dense forest canopy.

A canopy that shouldn't be there. He remembered the sounds of battle and gore caking his body combining with the unforgiving harshness of a barren desert. There should be no trees, no gentle winds. Dean sat up.

And everywhere, spilled across every inch of ground, were flowers. The stems were arched over, almost curling back on themselves, and underneath that arch hung multiple bell-shaped flowers. They were a brilliant shade of bright blue, the same as—

Dean choked. "Cas?" he called out, pushing himself to his feet. The forest stretched out around him as far as he could see. It appeared to be ancient; some trees were splotched with pungent moss and others with invasive curling ivy. Dean looked left, then right. Sam lay against a tree, eyes fluttering, then opening wide.

Sam groaned again, and scooted upward, looking around in wonder. "Where are we? Where did we go?" He stared in confusion, then squinted at the flowers. "Are these... bluebells?"

"Cas?" Dean tried again, voice growing hoarse and softer. No answer.

Legs too weak to support him, Dean collapsed, crushing dozens of the bluebells. The smell of rich earth and growing things invaded his senses. A shaking hand reached out to the nearest tree and his fingers trailed down its bark. It looked as unchangeable and timeless as… Anna's oak tree.

The thought was not random, not really. It was Dean realizing what this place was, what it meant.

His own voice echoed in his head, a memory:

So grace ground zero. It's not destruction, it's...

And Anna's certain reply:

Pure creation.

"No," he whispered, breath hitching. "No," he pleaded.

"No!" he screamed until there was no more oxygen in his lungs and he had to stop, gasping and sobbing on the ground.

There was a gaping emptiness in the spot where Cas had engraved his grace upon Dean's soul. An even emptier place in his soul where Cas had, he realized, always been. The handprint scar on his shoulder throbbed in time with his heartbeat.

No more nerdy little dude in a trenchcoat. No more uncomfortably long looks into blue eyes. No more badass angel mofo who defied heaven for the sake of a human who would never deserve that much faith. No more touches of sweet grace flowing against his soul. No more—

"Cas," he mouthed, a broken denial.

The war was over, their souls were their own. Purgatory was closed, the monsters defeated. They were victorious.

He couldn't bear to look out upon the forest for a moment longer, to see the curved graceful stems of beautiful flowers he'd gotten in exchange for Castiel. He couldn't.

Curling upon himself, Dean pulled his knees up to his chest and sobbed.


Author's Notes:

Bluebell forests are beautiful ancient woods that are scattered through Europe, arguably the most famous are in England. Bluebells themselves are said to symbolize humility, gratitude, and everlasting love. They are also called Dead Man's Bells.


Read the sequel: "Somewhere to Elsewhere"