My second novel 'INK' is on the Kindle store as an ebook.
Castiel stands frozen in the doorway.
This cannot be happening, and yet, it is. Dean looks at him, eyes heavy with shock and the effects of his drinking.
Castiel steps aside, ushering Dean into the apartment. In the time it takes for him to close the door, Dean has crossed the room and helped himself to a glass of scotch, downing it in two quick gulps.
"How do you know?" Castiel asks.
"I just...know." Dean looks at him. "Shit, you asked me...when I got to thinking about it, it was like a...wall, a dam in my head just cracked – and I could remember."
"I was shot." Dean says quietly, disbelievingly. His face is a mask of pain, haunted and afraid. "I remember...someone broke into one of the big houses in town...I shouldn't have gone alone, but I did...and they shot me."
Castiel takes a step forward without meaning to.
"Some, asshole shot me in the back of the head." Dean says, numbly.
There's nothing he can say that can ease the pain he knows Dean must be feeling. Castiel has felt it too. The total, all consuming grief for a life that had been taken away too soon.
Still, Castiel moves forwards and picks up the scotch bottle, pouring Dean another generous measure before sitting down on the couch.
Dean plumps down on the seat beside him, one had loosening his time, the other raising the glass to his lips.
"I was shot in 2011." Castiel says quietly.
Dean glances at him, lowering the glass with a shaking hand.
"I was shot, in the head, in 2011...I woke up on that boat, with no idea where I was. I only knew you because..." Castiel falters.
"How? How did you know my name?" Dean looks like he's at the end of a rapidly fraying rope, and so Castiel lets the words out on a breath before he can change his mind.
"Sam told me."
Castiel watches the other man. He has never thought Dean to be stupid. He is a lieutenant after all. Still, it takes a moment for him to put it together.
"Sam...isn't my brother?"
"You remember him being there." Castiel attempts to soothe.
"But it wasn't real." Dean says sharply. "I remember now, I remember my parents, my sister...not Sam."
"Sam...was from my time." Castiel sighs. "He was in a car accident, and he woke up with you – in the 70's, where you believed he was your brother. But...he came back to the present for a while, he came out of his coma, and he...he killed himself, to get back to you."
Dean closes his eyes for half a second, then reaches blindly for the bottle again.
"And when he drowned here?"
"He was already gone in the present." Castiel says softly.
"So are we..." Dean's voice dries up and he takes a slug of scotch. "Are we in comas?"
"I don't think so." Castiel whispers.
Dean's face creases and he sits in silence, digesting.
Castiel feels his stomach twist, his veins swimming with chill alcohol, which now seems not in the least comforting. His breath hitches, and he feels despair radiating from Dean, mixing with his own. It's real, this...limbo they're in. Cold and dark and inescapable. Dean has been here for...at least thirty years. Thirty years – Castiel can't take it, would rather die.
"Fuck." Dean says, startling him.
"Fuck!" Dean throws the glass, and it hits the wall opposite with a sharp crack, dashing itself into pieces.
Castiel is so surprised that he finds himself saying, "It was me."
Dean looks at him.
"It was me...the boy, today...it was me."
Dean's brows knit in confusion, then smooth out in horror.
Castiel's next breath, when it comes, is shaky.
Dean rubs a hand over his face, drunk, drowning in so much human misery that he can barely think.
Thinking becomes irrelevant once he reaches out, pulls Castiel closer, fingers sliding into his hair.
The warmth of the kiss fights the ice cold that laps at their hearts, like chill dock water. They taste and feel real to one another. Nothing else exists – the building, the furnishings – but when Dean sinks into Castiel, he knows – can feel every inch of him as something real, and solid. The heaving of his breath, the shy kicks of his hips, thighs spread open around Dean's waist. He smells real – like aftershave and sweat and scotch, a pulse flutters in his wrists, his chest, his quickening insides. His mouth is quick and hot, greedy against Dean's own.
That's how he knows it's real.
He remembers now though – it comes back with stark reality as he pummels Castiel's unresisting body into the bed. He remembers being thirty, watching all his friends on the force get married and have kids. They kept telling him that he should find someone – but he didn't want to. He liked his apartment – his unironed shirts and overflowing ashtrays. It was the only place he didn't have to lie.
As he mouths Castiel's neck, the soft skin blurring into stubble under his mouth, he remembers what the other man, what this time-traveller, had said to him.
One day you'll love someone enough.
He had never loved anyone enough. No man had ever been worth the way he knew he'd be treated. Hounded, assaulted, imprisoned. He had never met anyone who made it worth it.
Castiel's splayed thighs twitch, his stomach folds a little more, baring himself up just a bit further. Dean pitches forwards, covering Castiel's body with his own. Eye to eye as Castiel's hands clutch at his back.
Dean's thirty-six, or at least, he thought he was. But, if he was that age when he'd died, in the fifties as he remembers, hauled out to an unmarked, shallow grave by thieves. He's lived another thirty years in this world.
Sixty years. Alone. Never loving anyone enough.
He dips his head to Castiel's throat, presses his face to the smooth, salty skin of his throat. Pressed so close to Cas's body, he can't thrust as hard, but keeps his hips low, moving slow but deep, till it burns all the way up his spine.
He doesn't realise how odd he's acting, till Castiel wraps his arms around him fully, holding him close.
He doesn't let him go, even once Dean has shuddered to a stop, lying still on top of Castiel's small, shudder wracked frame.
"Does this mean...do we live forever?"
"I don't know." Castiel whispers, because something intimate has uncoiled between them. Something worthy of a whisper after all their shouting.
"Cas..." Dean leans up, looking down into Castiel's eyes, bordered by damp lashes. "I can't hide this, forever."
It says so much – that they have forever, that Dean wants him forever, that he wants more than a quick lay in the dead of night.
"Maybe tomorrow we can...go for a drink."
"A fake drink in a fake bar." Dean huffs.
"Maybe it's better this way...not knowing that we're in pain somewhere...it'd hurt too much." He reaches up and touches Dean's face. "Besides, I'd have missed you by sixty years."
"Trust you to keep me waiting." Dean murmurs.
"And you couldn't find someone else? Stubborn ass."
It's not the final word on their world. They have so much left to understand, to realise. In the end, after all the struggling, the struggle to be together, to fend off everyone else, to understand that everyone – Chuck, Rufus, Bex...has a story, had a life at some other time...it goes on, filling their days, giving them a purpose.
Still, that night, Castiel does not think of his younger self, of Dean's body rotting in the ground. He thinks instead of all things he knows.
My name is Castiel Novak. I was shot, and found myself in 1982. I could be dead, in a coma or back in time. Maybe somewhere between all three. I have to fight to understand where I am, and how I got here. What it means, and what I am now.
But, I am not alone.