He sat on the hood of the Impala watching Sam. The boy was dancing around beneath a barrage of fireworks, talking to an invisible form that only he could see.
Castiel heaved a heavy sigh and hung his head. It had been only a matter of weeks since he'd left Dean with his grief, but it felt like an eternity and not for the first time Castiel felt the urge to go to him.
With his foot resting on the bumper of Dean's precious car, Castiel resting his head in his hand and listened to the happy laughter of Dean's kid brother. Remembering the promise he'd made, a promise to take care of Dean and Bobby. It had been said just before Sam had headed off to face Lucifer with the insane plan of saying yes, and then throwing himself and the fallen angel into the pit. But it hadn't exactly gone according to plan. He hadn't meant for the angel to keep promise any way, he'd told him to lie to him, it was a human moral thing meant to comfort Sam in his final moments.
But Castiel had wanted to take care of the two men, but when Dean had chosen to stop hunting he'd seen that as a path that he couldn't accompany him down. As for Bobby, well he kept a close watch over the aging hunter but the man didn't want him around, he'd thrown himself into his work and hadn't called for help once, though Castiel had given him some on occasion, without the man knowing. Bobby Singer was too proud a man to accept help unless he was truly desperate. Castiel thought that was why him and Dean got on so well.
Castiel's eyes took in the smile Sam was giving to Dean, who thankfully wasn't there to receive it. The boy had grown into a man now. One much stronger than any of them would have thought. Though it hadn't been simply Sam's will that had broken Lucifer's hold over him, it was the love of two brothers who stood beside each other when everything said they shouldn't. A love Lucifer and Michael could never contemplate or experience because they didn't know what it was to be human, to care for anothers life above your own. A love that would have you turn against everything you believed in to protect them.
The lights flashed above him and Castiel closed his eyes and thought of Dean. He understood, far more than he thought possible. He understood so much of what Sam and Dean shared. He'd watched over them through the best and worst of time and in just two mortal years he'd come to count them as friends. - If an angel was able to have friends.
But as much as he understood Sam and Dean... especially Dean... he didn't understand himself. He felt a bond with Dean he couldn't recognize in the ones he'd witnessed. It was very close to that of the brothers, but different in some way. It was close to that of Dean and Bobby but not. He just couldn't put his finger on what was different between them.
He lifted his eyes to the sky above him, the soft glow of earth and humanity in the distance. Even now with such a cosmic divide between them, Castiel could still sense Dean, his emotional turmoil, the unending grief over Sam's death even as Dean tried to carry out his own promise to Sam, by settling into a normal life with Lisa and her son. But no matter what Dean did Castiel could still feel that hole within him. One that was growing bigger by the day as Dean pulled further and further away from his life. Turning his back on the one thing he was born to do, Hunt. Turning his back on Bobby and even his baby, the Impala, was sat silent in a garage covered with a beige paint stained dustsheet. Dean had turned his back on everything that was his previous life and that included Castiel.
With his eyes still set in a soft stare at the world he had not visited in weeks and with Sam's laughter and words on repeat, the moment resetting itself to begin again. Castiel couldn't stop the pounding of blood in his ears and the realizations that Dean had left him rather than that he had left Dean.
The hunter hadn't spoken to Castiel since that fateful day, neither in thought or prayer and something in the angel's gut tightened painfully. They had been so close, even when Sam and Dean weren't in need of his help he still watched over them, on a few rare occasions he's heard Dean talking to him in his thoughts. Though he was sure Dean would never admit to doing so, or maybe he wasn't even aware of it. But it had been enough to give Castiel the sense that an intense bond had been forged between them the day he'd raise Dean Winchester from perdition.
That had been the turning point in all their lives - though none of them, especially Castiel, could have imagined where that single act would have brought them. He had been following orders, but that day had changed him as much as it had changed Dean and the course of humanity. He felt now, he doubted, he had lost his faith and regained it (though it was a little different)
And all of this had happened because of Dean Winchester and his screw-you attitude with his determination not to make the same mistake again and give into what those with power over him wanted.
He wished he had someone to explain these emotions to him, help him figure out what this strong bond was with Dean. Why he put the man above everything else, even on occasion his own father. But the only one who may have been able to help him was gone. Anna had gone from betrayed to betrayer and had paid the ultimate price for it thanks to Michael and Castiel was fully aware that he had had a part to play in Anna's betrayal of Sam and Dean, maybe if he hadn't been so eager to prove himself a good soldier who could follow the order of those above him, then maybe Anna wouldn't have resorted to trying to wipe out the Winchester family line, Dean included.
He still couldn't understand why she would do such a thing. He knew that Anna and Dean had shared... an intimacy... Before she had re-ascended to heaven and everything he thought he knew about being human said that what she had done was a betrayal of that intimacy.
He couldn't imagine doing something like that. Not to Dean. Maybe the punishment she had undergone had made her doubt that which she had previously been so sure of, humanity. She had fallen because of her love for them and her desire to be like them. At the time Castiel had no comprehension of why she would do such a thing, but after experiencing that world, being around humans, being around Bobby and Sam and Dean, he could see why she fell.
He was still contemplating these thoughts when he heard a voice, an all too familiar voice.
"Cas." Distant, distracted as if it hadn't really been said. But he knew it had been and by who. He would know that deep rough tone anywhere and his heart jumped at the mere hearing of his name.
Many called him Cas now, but none said it like Dean. He had been the first to shorten his holy name, though whether through laziness because he couldn't be bothered to say his whole name or whether because he instinctively felt the same bond Castiel did, he couldn't tell. But it didn't matter really, Castiel liked it, it made him feel like one of them.
He listened hoping to hear it again, his breath caught in his lungs as he waited, but nothing, just silent and he began to doubt he'd ever heard it at all.