The hunter moved into the room on shaky legs, hardly believing it was all real. The man before him was so pale, so weak. It was almost laughable to think that this was the same man that not long ago, fought his way through hell to drag his soul out, and in saving a human the angel fell himself, his angel, his Cas. Human.
He fought back the tears as he reached the hospital bed. All of a sudden he was hyper aware of his body, could he touch him? He wanted to hold his hand, could he? Was he even allowed to be in here?
The hunter was snapped out of these thoughts, when he watched the simple, subtle flutter of Cas' eyes, as if his eyes where searching for him under his closed lids. Everything that wasn't Cas slipped away from his mind instantly, as he sunk into the chair next to the bed and took his hand without another thought. Dean clasped Cas' hand in-between both of his, placing soft kisses on his fingers now and then and whispering whatever he could bring himself to speak, lips brushing against Cas' slightly clammy skin.
Turns out they were in England, London to be precise. Though this was the least of his concerns, he thought to himself when Gabriel told him, on one of his many fleeting visits to the hospital room, to check in. neither mentioned the handholding he has spent the last six hours holding his angel, ex-angels hand. But it spoke in more than words that Dean didn't shrink away or remove his hand when Gabe was there, and in return Gabriel had a hint of a smile and nodded to him, it was all they needed.
Dean fell asleep on their hands around eight hours in, Balthazar popped in not long after to check in as Gabriel was otherwise occupied, he would never admit to his heart melting a little at the sight of the love Dean obviously has for his brother, he needed to speak to Gabriel, a plan forming in his head. A plan to give them both, a little peace, some happiness and a lot of hope.
Dean slowly blinked his eyes open, he wasn't where he thought he was or where he wanted to be. There was no hospital bed or constant beeps, no hospital period, and no Cas. The hunter was currently face down in leaves and dirt, surrounded trees, the midday sun shinning, making everything bright and rather serine. Dean began to panic, where was Cas, had he only just got him back just to loose him again?! The feeling buzzing around his body finally registered as he got himself to his feet, feeling lighter than usual, he was pretty saw he was dreaming, everything too vivid yet far away, like, well like a dream. His suspicions were strengthened when he turned around to see Cas walking towards him, a hint of a smile gracing his non-bruised and unscathed face.
"Cas?" he asked, not trusting his eyes but not willing to look away.
"Hello Dean." He answered with one of his soft genuine smiles growing slightly as he spoke his name.
"I'm dreaming aren't I?" he asked frozen to the spot. Cas nodded in response and stepped even closer, until they were a mere few feet apart. The hunter's arms lifted and slowly and cupped Cas' cheeks. "Cas." He whispered to himself, as if convincing himself he was really standing before him, and he could touch, his skin was warm he noted.
"I have a feeling this is Gabriel's doing. I'm dreaming too." He told Dean with an amused smile, lifting his hand to lightly stroke on of Dean's that was on his cheek.
"Son of a bitch." He replied fondly, Gabriel made this possible, made him able to see his angel, now human they both now dream, Gabriel was a cocky little shit, but Dean now owes him a hamper or something for this. They stay like that for a few moments before Cas stepped back and pulled away, face falling and clouded over into a serious manner, Dean hated that.
"I'm sorry Dean." Dean's heart retched at the sound of his voice so broken and raw.
"Don't, don't apologise Cas." The hunter has never begged, but this was probably the closest he has ever come. Simultaneously lacing his fingers together around Cas' neck and resting there foreheads together, Dean needed to touch, and to feel Cas accept his touch.
"I have too; this might be my last chance." He stomach fell then, no. no this wasn't it, this wasn't a goodbye. It couldn't be.
"No," Is all he managed to croak out, mind swirling and heart pounding so hard he felt it lining his dry through with every aggressive pump.
"I'm weak, Dean, weaker than I can ever remember being. I don't think I'll be able to wake up." He explained, forehead still touching, both savouring the contact.
"You will, you have too. Don't leave me Cas." He grip on Cas' neck tightened as a tear finally overflowed and fell.
"I'm sorry, I'm not strong enough." Gripping the hunters sleeves he tried to explain, he didn't want to die, he didn't, he wanted to stay with Dean, he had to understand that.
"You are, you're human, so what. That doesn't mean you give up. You fight." Cas froze at that, he wasn't an angel?
"Human." He repeated slowly, as if testing it on his tongue. "Yes, I can feel it. I'm, human." How could he not have realised, the power buzzing under his skin had faded to next to nothing, angel no more.
"So no more talk of leaving okay." He had to fight, Dean thought he couldn't give up, not know.
"You don't understand. the damage I received with my fight with Lucifer was extensive even to an angel." He sounded so defeated Dean wrapped his arms around his smaller body, gripping him tightly as if trying to transfer his strength to him.
"It was worth it." He argued, fuck Dean thought, he really didn't realise how important his life is, he would gladly lay it down for the cause, it was unacceptable and horribly familiar.
"No it wasn't, Cas it wasn't."
"You mean Lucifer's not,"
"He's dead; it's not worth it if you die too." Moving back they looked into each others eyes. "Please, keep fighting Cas, I never thought I'd see you again. It almost killed me thinking you were gone, I can't do that again, I wont. So fight, if not for you, fight for me. Stay with me." He nodded, overwhelmed hearing the words he longed to hear, come from his mouth, Cas couldn't help but smile upon hearing them, finally.
"I would do anything to keep you from hurting Dean." Dean leaned in to at long last kiss his angel, but Cas leaned back a little stopping him, a flash of pain course through his body at the rejection. "Wait, Dean I have to tell you something."
"What?" Cas caressed Dean cheeks encasing his face with his hands stroking them slowly with his thumbs as he began to confess.
"The dreams you've been having about me. They were actually with me."
"I put myself into your dreams so I could spend time with you, time that wasn't rushed or dangerous. It was calm, peaceful, you were happy. I couldn't resist." He didn't know what to think, were his dreams real? Did Cas force them on him to manipulate him, test him, mock him?
"Did," he took a breath trying to form the sentence correctly "Did you influence my dreams, make them what they were?"
"No, I replace the dream version of me." He heaved a sigh of relief, it meant Cas was invasive and kind of an idiot but not evil or manipulative.
"Then I don't care."
"What?" before either could speak again Dean launched himself into Cas' space and finally claimed his lips, it was slow and lingered, sweet and spoke everything they hadn't yet had the time or courage to say, when they pulled apart both were smiling.
"I love you Cas."
"I love you too."
"Come home." he said taking both his hands gently.
"Always." They simply stared into eye others eyes for a while, like they had all the time in the world. They felt like they had, like nothing could touch them in the bubble they had created for each other. That was until Dean's skin began to fade, almost ghost like. "Dean? You're vanishing?"
"What?" he began to panic, it couldn't end yet, what if even after what was said Cas didn't wake up, what it this was it. He wanted to dream forever. "No, I don't want to wake up. No, Cas you have to too, wake up Cas."
"I'll try." Placing a quite peck to Dean knuckles before watching him leave.
"I'll be there when you wake up." He watched Cas smile softly before his eyes opened.
He was back, the repetitive beep of the machines, the anti-septic smell, and the coarse material of the bed cover against his face.
Lifting himself back up of the chair he blinked the sleep from his eyes and stared at the seemingly lifeless body of his Cas. Suddenly he felt sick, Cas was going to wake up, he had too, he promised. But what if he didn't.
He stood brushing his fingers through the mans hair with the hand that wasn't still clasping Cas'.
"Come on baby, wake up." He placed a kiss to his forehead. "Please."
There was no response, a little while later a nurse came in to check in on Cas, she fiddled with the machines wrote some things down before leaving, not even sparing a glance in Dean's direction.
"What the hell?" he whispered to himself, surely she wouldn't just ignore him, besides it dark outside, shouldn't she ask him to leave, or at lest ask who he was, but nothing, it was like she couldn't see him. "No." he thought to himself, this wasn't a dream was it? Cas was alive and he was by his bedside right? Gabriel brought him here; he could possibly be that cruel could he? "Gabriel, I have a situation here, I need you." It felt horrible to Dean praying to a different angel, but it had to be done, Gabriel was the only one with answers.
Within seconds the familiar sound of wings filled the room and Gabriel was standing in the middle of the room but Dean's eyes didn't leave his angel, he'll always be Dean's angel; wings or no wings, in the bed.
"What's up Deano?"
"Is this real?" he asked willing the tremble out of his voice.
"Huh?" the angel replied, unable to grasp what Dean was getting at.
"All of this; is it real? Is Cas really alive? In that bed, am I really in London?" he turned to the now only angel in the room, not caring how desperate he sounded
"Of course." he replied as if it was the easiest question to answer.
"Then why couldn't that nurse see me?!" he shouted, angry and confused, grip on Cas' hand tightened slightly. "I swear if this is all some game to you, I will kill you." Gabe's face turned serious and angry, he stepped forward voice calm but filled with anger.
"You think I would joke about something like this, he may be your boyfriend or whatever you want to call it, but he was my brother first. I love him and if you think for one second messing with you is more important than Cassie's life, then you can go fuck yourself." He took a breath after seeing the genuine fear and confused in the hunters face, the angel visibly calmed and explained his actions "Look, I knew you'd want to be here okay, I knew you'd refuse to leave until it was out the front door accompanied with him, so yeah apart from visiting hours you're invisible, they cant see or hear you." He let that sink in, taken aback at the gesture.
"Thank you." He croaked out, sinking back into the chair, both hands now on Cas' "The dream?"
"I may not be able to heal him but I could do that, Balthazar's idea actually."
"Why can't you heal him?" Gabriel stood the other side of the bed, softly griped Cas by the shoulder and looked to him, slightly sad, slightly fond.
"The damage was done by Lucifer, extensive damage; I did all I could, it's down to him now." He nodded again but didn't answer. "You want anything?"
"Come on Dean, you're both human now, you need to set a good example for our Cassie when he wakes up, you need to eat and drink."
"You think he'll wake up." He had to know, even though he was sure Gabriel may well lye just to make himself or both of them feel a little better, hopeless hope was better than no hope right?
"I think he has and will go to hell for you. He'll fight his way out, he'll wake up. I'll bring you a coffee and a sandwich."
"Thank you Gabriel." He mumbled, before hearing the sounds of Gabriel leaving the room.
"Come on Cas." He whispered, giving his a kiss on the knuckle before climbing into bed with him, he laid awkwardly on top on the covers, very nearly falling off, using all his stomach muscles to keep him balanced. But it was worth it as he rested his head of Cas' shoulder and snaked an arm around his waist. He stayed that way, taking comfort in the soft rise and fall on his chest as he breathed. Dean began to talk, like he never has before, he spoke of his childhood, the different schools, constant travelling, looking after Sam, everything that came into his head. The thought that the more he spoke the more likely Cas would somehow hear, that his voice could lead him out, that it would remind him he was there, if nothing else it made him feel better.
He stayed that way long after his stomach hurt from holding himself in the position, his arm was dead and a crick began niggling at his neck, but eventually he had to move, he slunk back into the chair a few minutes before the nurse came in to check on both of them-cause he could be seen now, as visiting hours had started.
"Good morning." She greeted Dean brightly, as if being overly cheery would help, really it was kind of annoying. But the hunter didn't say anything she was only doing her good, he was grateful she was here.
"Hey, how's he doing?" he asked stroking his hand lightly, praying for good news. The nurse, short stocky brunette looked him over, consorted the chart and jotted a few notes down before answering.
"About the same," Dean's heart fell, like every time he asked and was given the same news, "which isn't a bad thing, he's stable it's a good sign." He nodded he knew if could be worse, he's seen a crash cart go part a couple times, at least that wasn't Cas he thought. No he corrected himself that wasn't good enough Cas shouldn't be here he should be awake, in America, with Dean.
"How long before he wakes up." Hoping against hope she had a different answer.
"Same as what I told you yesterday, it's impossible to say." She gave the man before her a sad smile, he looked wrecked and incredibly tired and her heart went out to him. Unfortunately she wasn't a miracle worker she wished she had better news to give but she can only do her job.
It's been six days and Dean has barely left Cas' side, only leaving for small time pools to shower or grab food, he was terrified Cas would wake when he wasn't here, he had made a promise after all. Every time he closed his eyes to sleep, he hoped and prayed to dream-share again, to see Cas' face, talk to him, anything. But every time all there was, was darkness, nothing.
As the hours crept by Dean's mind kept wondering, he kept thinking of worse case scenarios, all that bad things that could happen and what past event meant. He began to think Gabriel let them dream-share that once in order to say goodbye and the angel didn't think his brother would wake up, that thought was more crushing that anything else. Would Gabriel really do that to him? Lift his hopes; let him speak to Cas, to kiss him just for it to be taken away. And then not tell him and let him sit here, no Gabriel wouldn't, couldn't. No matter how he feels about Dean, he was good, and he loved Cas. The hunter ran these thoughts around his mind, speeding a mile a minute, the more the thought the worse he felt.
Angry, guilty, despair and soul crushing grief spilled out in his tears, his mind couldn't quite process all the emotions he was suddenly feeling at once, but what he did process was all the blind hope was vanishing.
"Cas wake up, please." Dean choked on his words as he sobbed, pleading for him to wake up. "GABRIEL!" he shouted as loud as he could, falling to his knees, everything crashing onto his shoulders at once. After a few moments of only Dean's heavy breathes filling the air, wings could be heard.
"What is it now?" Gabriel asked sounding put out of being called upon. Dean was silent for a long while still on his knees, gaining curious looks from Gabriel. Finally Dean settled on;
"He won't wake up will he." The Gabriel rolled his eyes and took the hunters arm to get him to his feet.
"Course he will." The hunter ripped himself out the shorter mans grip.
"Then why can't I see him in my dreams, did you just do that for us to say good bye?! Why would you let he sit here all this time knowing he was still going to leave me." Gabriel glared at the man, trying to contain his anger.
"That is what you're getting panicking over?" Voice quite, but by no means calm. "sit, sit!" he shouted when he had to repeat himself, Dean unable to remember when Gabriel looked and sounded quite as hurt and angry at the same time, sat without question. Gabriel began speaking, feeling a little like lecturing a little child. "You need to get a grip. You might not know this, but Lucifer had many followers, many more enemies gearing for a fight, you can imagine everyone's surprise when one little angel came along and took down the devil in the name of a human, a hunter nonetheless." The reality of the situation seemed to sink into both of them. There were a few moments of silence between them only the constant beeping of one of Cas' machines filled the air, soon the angel sighed and this time when he spoke he sounded tired. "It's been chaos Dean, demons are more confident, they've lost their leader, they think they have nothing else to loose. You know how when animals panic they lash out. The angels don't know what to do, Michael's, Michael's disappeared it seems they are beginning to look to me for leadership, being the last arc angel involved in all this mess. It's horrible being in charge, and boring." Gabriel stopped pacing and perched on Cas' bed just to the right of the hunter, catching his eye, forcing it away from Cas "The balance has been thrown off by Lucifer's sudden departure. Balthazar, Sam, Bobby and I, have spent the last week practically at war Dean. So sorry I couldn't spare a few hours to hop you into his head." Dean was in shocked silence, he felt incredibly stupid and useless.
"I want to help."
"You are, you're keeping him safe, he's getting stronger everyday." He got up and walked away from them. He could do with an experienced hunter, but he knew that Dean's mind would always be here, he'd get himself or someone else killed, then he would hate himself even more, even more so if Cas woke up when he was absent, he could never forgive himself. No, Dean was where he needed to be. "We can handle it Dean."
"I'm sorry." Dean told him, he meant it he was, he had no idea the price of all this. Gabriel sensed this and gave him a nod before flying away back to where he was needed.
With his worries calmed slightly, he sat in his chair, laced their fingers and pulled out an old battered book, it was much read and well loved, with the spine frayed and many of the pages had almost falling out. He used to read it to Sam when he was ill growing up, so he began reading it to Cas.
Cas can't really be sure how long he has been unconscious, to him watching Dean fade away was mere moments ago. When in reality it was probably days, weeks? He had no concept of time, but it mattered not to the ex-angel, time didn't matter when he only had one thing to do, one promise to keep, to wake up. He tried everything, and despite feeling a little stronger nothing changed. He began to give up, as the echoing wave of a familiar sound reached Cas' ears it felt like music, it was Dean. His voice, he was unsure whether it was in his head or in the air, but it didn't matter. Cas was filled with a new burst of hope, that voice a constant reminder of why he's got to wake up, he's got to get home.