A deep, sombre silence blanketed the house, trapping fears and tensions, smothering any remaining hope of redemption. They were so far beyond salvation, a miracle couldn't save them. There was nothing anymore, except for a resolution grinding into their bones, a wordless acknowledgement that they would fight, and that they would keep on fighting until their fingers fell off and their lungs coughed blood, until their legs stopped working and their eyes began to rot. Until the end of time, they would fight.
But Dean Winchester was sitting alone, and that meant that he had no reason to pretend to be strong.
A trench coat was thrown all too unceremoniously over the back of the seat beside him. There were two small, crystal glasses sitting in front of him, filled with deep amber liquid. He brought the glass to his lips and tipped its contents into his mouth, savouring the burning sensation as it climbed down his throat, as if it were tearing at his skin, the inside of his body. The feeling was almost enjoyable, compared to his day. At the same time, it was a devastating reminder that he wasn't as numb as he wished he could be. He could still feel. Nothing would ever be painless.
He reached out and put a hand on the long coat hanging beside him.
"Stupid angel," he said, grimacing. "And they call me dumb."
There was a short silence. A muscle worked in Dean's jaw. Outside, a dog howled in the night.
"You know, I've been wrong before," he said. "Not about a lotta things. Not when it mattered, at least. I ain't being big-headed or anything, but trust me when I say that when it gets down to it, I try to tell the truth. I do."
He pulled his hand away from the coat quickly, as if it had suddenly begun to burn him.
"I can't say the same for you, though," he said, just above a whisper, and he took another shot of his drink and took the bottle before him and poured himself another glass.
He raised the glass to his lips again, but before he took a drink something pulsed through his body, and his hand clenched into his fist and he ground his teeth together and he twisted his head sharply to look out the window, to stare at the moon in the sky, a shining orb of glowing brightness. Then Dean had to look away, because he had to wonder if the moon wasn't just some huge, dense pile of the grace of angels, ripped away from them and collected as punishment. He had to wonder if the moon was just the sins of an angel, torn away from a poor bastard and balled up into something to light the way for humans. He imagined that that was what an angel's grace was really for. To light the way for humans.
"Oh, Cas," he said, and he couldn't keep the grief out of his voice.
He sat there for a few more moments, resisting the deep urge to throw the coat in the fire, to go outside and destroy something, to crack the bottle on the side of the table and slash his own face with it.
"So," he said finally, "I got something to apologize about."
He paused for a moment, looking at the coat, as if expecting an answer. He knew none would come. But he waited anyway.
"I was wrong, Cas," he said, looking down at the glass in his hands. "Before this really started, you know, when we had to...the first time we had to trap you, Jesus, do you realize that that was the first time we ever had to use that damn holy fire on you? It's, uh, it's a little ironic, don't you think? You're the one that taught us that. And we ended up using it on you." Dean put his glass down on the table and cracked his knuckles. "Kinda sucks when the student screws over the master, doesn't it? Not that you were ever really the master of anything. You were just a big baby, that's all."
"Just a big baby."
He reached out and touched the sleeve of the coat. He held it in his hands, running his fingers across the worn fabric.
"Anyway," he continued, quieter now. "You asked me where I was when you needed me to tell you not to make a deal with the goddamned devil. You shouldn't really have needed me to tell you that, for one, but I said I'd been right here, and I wasn't lying about that. You coulda come to me. You and Sam and me, we've beaten worse odds before. But no. You decided to be stupid about it, the way that I usually am. But you can't do everything on your own, Cas. Even I knew that."
He dropped the sleeve, and reached out to take hold of his glass again.
"But then I told you that it wasn't too late," said Dean, his voice heavy and regretful. "That we could fix this."
He took a long draught from his glass.
"I was wrong about that," he said thickly.
He set the glass down and put his elbows on the table and buried his face in his hands.
"It was too late, Cas," he said, dragging his hand down his weary face. "You know, I always thought I didn't believe in no-win scenarios. Thanks for proving me wrong, you stupid son of a bitch."
He looked at the coat on the chair beside him again, and his heart felt like it wasn't there.
"It had to have been too late," he breathed, his voice below a whisper, "otherwise we would have saved you."
Dean reached out and clutched the sleeve, the shoulder, the collar of the coat lying limply on the chair. "We would have saved you," he repeated. "If we could have, Cas – if it had been possible at all – if there had been any chance of getting you back – we would have done it. We would've found a way. We would have fixed this."
He loosed his grip on the fabric in his hands.
"When did it break?" he asked helplessly.
He lowered his head into the cold, empty cloth. He held it close to him.
"When did it break?" he whispered.
He laid the coat on the table before him.
"I ain't burying this," he said, but he looked up as he said it, as if speaking to someone who wasn't in the room, to someone who was listening in on him from above. "I ain't burying him. I don't know if he'll be back or not, but..."
He put the coat back on the chair beside him, and took his glass again.
"But I ain't burying him," he said firmly, taking another sip of his drink.
He sat there silently, completely still, staring straight forward into the nothingness of the night. Then he turned his head slightly, and he picked up his glass and he tapped it gently against the other, untouched glass full of dark liquid.
"Cheers, Cas," he said, raising his drink slightly. "This one's for you."
He downed his glass, his throat burning in sync with the tears in his eyes.
In light of 7.02, I had to write something.
Personally, I don't believe Cas is dead. But it looks that way right now. And that makes me so sad. I can't believe they lost him already. Oh Cas, baby. We love you so much.