Because Season 7 just broke my heart TWICE this is a fix it fic that's not. Basically, just the last bit of the episode with Dean's emotions/ inner monologue. Sad, but perhaps in a bittersweet way, with a little hope in there too.
Also – Fuck you sera gamble. You ruined everything.
For ten seconds, everything was fine.
It was like waking up from a nightmare, only at this point the nightmare was most of his life, and Dean knew, just knew that he was about to be sucked back under.
In the instant before that reprieve, he was back on the ground, kneeling in the mud of a ghost town, looking into Sam's eyes and realising that he was already gone. That the blood on his hands was the last flash of life in his brother's body. That everything, everything could just stop, could burn away and he wouldn't care. Because there was blood on his hands, and where once there had been two people, there was only him, and a memory, already getting cold.
That was what he felt then, two moments, a lifetime apart – looking down at Castiel's body, blistered from the inside out with power, covered in the blood of people Dean had seen him rip apart with his bare hands.
And Bobby told him he was cold.
"Maybe...angels don't need to breathe?"
It slips out before he can stop it. And inside Dean shakes himself. Stupid. Stupid to think it, stupid to say it. But he so wanted to believe, even now. He so wanted Cas to just get up and...to just get up. And everything else could follow after. Whatever it was.
Because he can lie, and face up to the sword over their heads. Can plan to remove it, to destroy it.
But Castiel was never just a sword.
He was never a hammer – he'd said so himself.
Ten seconds after Castiel shivers back to normal, healed and awake and impossibly alive. And this time it didn't cost Dean his soul, just the last little bit of whatever was holding him together. Because he knows right now that after this he can't pretend to be indifferent, angry...he'll have to feel, everything. And he knows it's going to hurt like hellfire.
But he can't help but hope, with deadly, damning totality, that it might be worth it.
Ten seconds and Castiel mutters that it was 'unpleasant' like the stuffed shirt he used to be, and Dean's relief is almost painful. He just barely keeps himself in check, because right then he just wants to laugh, half stunned, and clap the guy on the back for coming through, for coming back from the edge.
And Castiel says words like 'amends' and 'forgiveness' like Dean can bring himself to care. Because Cas is there – he lived and he came back normal. And ever since his Dad warned him about Sam Dean has been so, so, afraid, all the time, that everyone is a monster, deep down. Since hell he can't even believe he isn't dark underneath.
But Cas...no matter how caught up in his orders or his duty. It was always the right thing.
Now maybe he can prove Dean wrong.
Maybe they can make it up, fix everything, patch up the cracks and hold each other up. The four of them. Maybe that's his life now.
Ten seconds, and they're up.
And Dean should have fucking known, because he can never have the slightest bit of anything without it being ripped away as soon as he dares think about holding on.
And Castiel's buckling with pain, and telling him to run...and then it's over.
And some...thing, with his friend's face looks at him and beams, all twisted and free and so fucking terrifying that he can barely look at it.
And tells him Castiel is dead.
And he never got to say goodbye.