Dean's hands were covered in so much blood he couldn't see the wound anymore. "Cas? Cas, you gotta keep talking."
"What...what should I say?"
Castiel's voice was breathy and dazed. More blood seeped between Dean's fingers and he pressed harder on the stab wound in Cas' abdomen. "Anything you want, buddy. Anything that comes to mind." Every time he closed his eyes he saw that cursed dagger sink into Castiel's gut, heard the soft, surprised sound he'd made. "Sam'll catch the demon. He will."
"The wound doesn't pain me anymore." He almost sounded relieved.
"That's 'cause you're in shock, Cas."
Castiel blinked slowly. "I don't understand."
"Shock's something our bodies do when we get hurt. You said getting hit with that dagger screwed up your mojo, so right now you're running on human."
Castiel nodded. His eyes were bright and wide, staring up into the night sky. "Are...are you cold too, Dean?"
Dean felt a bead of sweat roll down his back; he'd all but soaked through his shirt, the Florida night muggy and stifing. "Yeah. Yeah, it's chilly out."
Dean could feel each shiver race up through his fingertips. "I've never been cold before," Castiel said. "I don't think I like it."
"Most people don't, Cas. You're doing good."
He nodded again, as if Dean had asked a question. Dean could feel Cas' pulse fluttering, each beat bringing another spurt of dark blood. The dagger had done serious damage, maybe even hit the big artery running through there; as if reading his mind Castiel murmured, "I don't think this wound is survivable, Dean."
"Don't worry about that. Sam breaks that dagger, you bounce back to normal. That's what you said, right? All you have to do is keep breathing until he catches the sonofabitch."
"I don't...I don't have to breathe."
"Until Sam gets his hands on that knife you do, Cas." Dean clenched his jaw. "That's all I want you to worry about, breathing in and out."
"In and out," Castiel whispered.
"That's right. Breathe in and breathe out." Castiel's hand twitched; Dean felt icy fingers circle his wrist and swallowed hard. "I'm here, Cas. I'm not going anywhere."
"Do you see that star? The faint one, just below Orion's belt?"
Dean kept his eyes locked on Castiel's face. His eyes were so wide Dean could almost see the stars reflected anyway. "Yeah, Cas."
"It burned out 300 years ago. This is the last night its light will be v-visible on Earth," he said, his teeth chattering. "They all have names. Even ones unknown by humans."
"Bet you know them all, huh?"
Cas nodded. "I've always...always enjoyed looking at the stars." Dean felt Castiel's hand tighten around his wrist. "I'm glad you're here to see it with me." He was so quiet for so long Dean startled when he spoke again. "Do you know any prayers, Dean?"
He shook his head. "Not really my thing, Cas, you know that."
"Oh." His breath shuddered. "I...I think I would like to hear a prayer now."
Dean searched frantically through years of sitting through Pastor Jim's sermons. "I might remember the Lord's Prayer from when I was a kid. I mean, maybe, I don't think I know all the words any more."
Cas nodded. "That would do. Thank you."
"Okay." He stumbled through the middle, pretty sure he'd made up a whole line at one point. He watched Cas as he finished, wondering how someone could be so pale and still be breathing.
Castiel's voice was fragile as spun glass. "Could you say it again?"
Dean felt his eyes burn. "Anything, Cas." When he got to the end he started over without prompting and Cas squeezed his wrist. The fifth time through he felt Cas' breathing synch with the rhythm of the prayer, his chest moving to Dean's faltering words.
Dean lost track of time. His legs were numb from kneeling on the ground, his arms shaking from trying to keep what little blood Castiel still had inside his body. Cas' hand was a loose circle around his wrist, his eyes dull and vacant, staring up at the ghosts of dead stars; the only sign Dean wasn't alone was Cas' faint, faint breathing, still following Dean's words as if the prayer was breathing for him. Dean's throat burned but he didn't dare stop, whispering words he'd never believed to the night until he almost forgot there were other words. The world narrowed and spun on those words and the rise and fall under Dean's hands.
Breathe in. Breathe out.