The End Of Nights We Tried To Die

Dean woke up on the ground. The Colt laid in front of him in the grass.

Thunder cracked the silence and reminded him where he was.

Dean's arm darted out for the Colt - Lucifer had made the mistake of releasing him from his paralyzing grip. Dean rolled over on his back and pointed the Colt up at Lucifer's smug, self-righteous face… but there was only sky.

Dean sat up and looked around. Lucifer was gone. His past-self was gone. There were no sounds of his own people fighting the Croats inside the building; that battle was long over. Out here in the courtyard there was no sign of movement, except for the wind in the rose bushes. Rain was starting to fall.

He tried to figure out what had happened, how he was still alive. Had Sam done something to save him? Dean didn't think so. Sam - what was left of Sam - wasn't the same person anymore. Dean realised he had no-one to blame for that but himself.

He looked down to his right. There was a body beside him. It took Dean a confusing moment to realise who it was.

"Cas!"

Dean crawled over to him. Cas wasn't moving and his eyes were closed. There was blood running from his nose.

"Castiel!"

Dean tried shaking him. Cas didn't respond.

Dean put his ear to Cas' chest, searching for the sound of respiration. It was weak but it was there. He put his fingers against Cas' neck and found an erratic pulse.

Dean took another look around. The coast seemed to be clear, but there was no way in Hell it was going to stay that way for long.

He gathered Castiel up in his arms, still not understanding how he had the sudden ability to do it. A few moments ago, Dean thought he would never move again.

He hugged Cas to his chest and remembered that last time he'd carried him out of harm's way like this, how Cas had made it so exhausting, screaming and squirming about. Dean would've given anything for Cas to wake up and start doing that now.

Cas did wake up a few hours later in his own warm bed. He had the mother of all headaches, and the rest of his body ached too. He tried to move and found that he couldn't; not very much and not without causing himself more pain, anyway. He moaned.

"Cas?"

Dean was keeping a bedside vigil.

"Dean…" Castiel smiled dreamily at him. "You're alive."

"Yeah," Dean confirmed. "I'm not quite sure how that happened, actually. One minute Lucifer is using my neck to wipe his shoe, and the next…" He gave Cas a suspicious and not-entirely-pleased look. "What happened Cas? What did you do?"

"I brought you back," Cas said proudly. "I guess I'm not so useless after all."

Dean nodded: he had to agree with that.

"How?" Dean asked.

Cas attempted a small shrug. "Lucifer and Zachariah," he deduced, "in the same place, almost at the same time. They left traces of powerful energy on the ground. I could feel it." His smile broadened. "It was enough to make me me again, Dean, just for a moment. Just enough to…"

He closed his eyes and sighed blissfully.

Dean did not share his emotion.

"Zach was there?"

Cas nodded. "After Lucifer left, he showed up and took the other Dean away, back to his own time, I guess. Then it was just you and me."

"What about the Croats?' Dean interrogated him. "How did you get away?"

Cas let out a weak little laugh. "Uh, I ran?"

"You ran?" Dean didn't know why that should surprise him.

"Yes." Cas supposed he should've been ashamed of himself for ignoring Dean's orders and leaving the others to die pointlessly without him, but he wasn't. "I know you had a different plan for me, Dean, but I've never really been one for sticking to the plan." His smile turned plaintive and his dark blue eyes sparkled seriously. "I was prepared to die for you… but not without you."

Dean decided that was fair. "You came back to find me?"

"Lucky I did, huh?"

Dean looked down at the floor. This worried Cas.

"It was lucky," he asked Dean, "wasn't it? I did do the right thing?"

Dean hesitated.

"You did what you thought was best, Cas," he said sympathetically. "That's all you've ever done."

"Right," Cas said, noticing that Dean hadn't exactly said 'yes.' "Always the best intentions…"

Dean watched him for a moment, just thinking about everything Cas had done to him… for him… thinking about how Cas had never meant to hurt him. Dean had always known it, but he hadn't always cared. Now he did.

Sam had forced Dean to face up to the truth: it wasn't all Cas' fault. Cas only ever did what Dean had wanted him to do.

Dean acknowledge that Cas was sorry, and forgave him for whatever part he'd played. Cas sensed it with deep gratitude. Cas also sensed that Dean was sorry.

Dean was sorry to Sam for having forced him out of his life, and sorry to Cas for having blamed him for it all these years.

Dean was still a little too sorry for himself, though, to admit any of this to Cas out-loud.

Cas didn't mind. He knew how to read Dean, and he didn't need borrowed angel powers to do it.

"So," Dean tried to salvage his dignity after all this touchy-feely mind-melding crap, "Zachariah took me back for a do-over. Do you think I'll say yes?"

Cas shrugged. "I honestly don't know. But if you do… if the past changes at all…" Cas' face was serene, but his eyes were sad and ominous. "…all of this may never happen. We may cease to exist."

Cas grinned suddenly. "Maybe we should have last-night-on-Earth sex again, huh?"

Dean smiled at him. Cas couldn't remember the last time that had happened. "I think you'd be better off just sitting here quietly," Dean said.

Cas, unfortunately, had to agree. Reviving Dean had taken a lot of power, power that Cas was no-longer used to wielding. It had wiped him out on the spot, and now his fragile human vessel was protesting about it loudly.

Cas shuffled his hand across the mattress towards Dean.

"Will you sit with me?" Castiel asked.

Dean slipped his hand into Cas'.

Dean slipped his hand into Cas'. He lifted the back of Cas' hand to his lips and kissed it in answer.

~THE END~