So...I'm procrasting some of my other fics rather heavily, but they are being worked on slowly...in the interim, I felt compelled to write my own tribute to the sacred trenchcoat. Season 7 is leaving me angsty and sad and in need of brotherly love. ;-; I believe this is called a 'tag' but I am not sure. Takes place in the span of time that Sam leaves the cabin for 'pie' and leaves poor, leg-broked Dean behind. If someone could explain the difference between 'tag' 'coda' and 'gen' to me, I would be grateful. Either way, enjoy, and leave me verbal-hugs out of the kindness of your hearts? XD

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

There it was. The logic-defying piece of fabric that had gone to Hell and back-literally-and yet remained as pristine [if a bit wrinkled] as the first day Dean had seen it years ago. The piece of crap, tax-accountant-esque, nightmare of a fashion statement that had adorned the vessel of Angel-of-the-Lord-Castiel for his entire stay on good ole planet Earth. [Except for his brief stint as a chick, a.k.a. Jimmy's daughter.]

"Who are you?"

"I am the one that gripped you tight and raised you from perdition."

"Thanks for that."

Dean had promptly stabbed the newcomer to no avail and been given a rude awakening in the religion department. A very blunt 'I am an angel of the Lord' kind of awakening.

And damn, had that been an eye-opener. Friggen angels.

Dean, try as he might to push the memories back, could still hear his mother telling him that angels were watching over him. He could still hear her singing her lullabye. Hell, he could even remember that little angel statue in the corner.

And he could remember hating said angels.

Because he'd prayed, and prayed, and prayed until he was mentally bleeding. Until his voice was hoarse and his eyes had run dry of pleading tears. He'd wanted his mom back. He'd wanted his dad to be okay again. He wanted Sammy safe. And he'd prayed and promised to be good and do whatever God or angels wanted: he'd give them all his toys, and eat all of his vegetables, and always brush his teeth, if they'd just give my Mommy back.

But they never did.

So daily-nightly prayers became nightly, and then weekly, then monthly, and finally he'd stopped altogether. He could remember the exact day he lost his faith completely.

Nine-year old Dean sat in a chair across from a five-year old Sam as the motel t.v. rumbled in the back ground. It was some old show, with a crackled picture and tinny voices, and a little girl laughing as her mother tickled her before she kissed her goodnight.

John sat between them and scoured a newspaper for more information on his latest case when Sam piped up, all innocence and curiosity and maybe a bit of longing. .

"Where's Mommy?"

Dean froze with a spoonful of cereal lifted near to his lips. John's grip on the newspaper tightened just slightly and no one said a word. It had been a long time since Sam had mentioned a mother, it wasn't like there was much to remind the kid, except the damned t.v. show now.

Finally, John said lowly. "She's in Heaven, kiddo. You know that." As much as he could, for the little that John had explained it-and for the little that a kid could begin to understand the concept of something like Heaven.

Basically, to Sammy's mind, it was the same thing as a hotel. Just a place to go, except that they went to hotels all the time and it was never 'Heaven', and he wondered why. Because they should just go and see Mommy. He knew he had one, and he wanted to see her and get kisses and hugs just like the other Mom's gave. He'd seen some. And he wanted to share her with Dean, because just a few times, just a few, he'd heard Dean at night praying to 'Heaven' to give them their Mom back. And for their Dad to be happy again. And he'd even prayed something about Sammy, which made him happy too, but he didn't talk when Dean prayed 'cuz Dean just got mad and he didn't like Dean mad at him.

"But how come we dun'go see her? I wanna see her..." Sam's little voice was a bit forlorn on that last bit and Dean pulled a choked sort of face as he lowered his spoon, appetite lost as defensive anger and a sad desperation warred within him.

"Sammy, stop-"

"it's alright, Dean." John said quietly before he set a large, gentle hand on Sam's head and ruffle the messy hair lightly. "We can't go to Heaven yet, Sam. Not for a long time. But your Mom loved you more than anything, you and Dean. And she'll be real happy to see us...someday. Okay?"

"But how come not today?" Sam frowned up at his father, lacking any understanding.

Dean was tense, agitated, but he was focused on his father. The other never talked about stuff like this, and mentioning Mom just made their dad more upset. But John was different with Sam than with Dean, and Dean figured that was alright because he was older and he needed help watching Sammy. So if he babied Sam, then that was okay. But telling him all this stuff about Mom and Heaven, what good would that do? How could he say stuff like that when he knew the truth? Dean knew that his Dad had prayed too, only a few times, but he had...and he'd been just as let down as Dean. They hadn't helped them. The Winchesters were on their own...so why go telling the kid otherwise? Why give Sammy a hope that they just didn't have...he should know better...

"You can only go to Heaven if you leave everything behind. That's the way it works. You remember the rabbit?"

The hobbling, sickly, half-gnawed on rabbit that had died within a few hours of being found on their doorstep, presumably a fox-victim-escapee. It had died, and they'd done their best to explain it to Sam who'd mostly cried but seemed to accept it as that the rabbit was sleeping and never waking up.

"Y-Yeah." Sam sniffed a bit, not liking the turn of the conversation or the reminder of the rabbit.

"It's like that. You gotta sleep and not wake up anymore to go to Heaven. So that's why...it'll take some time before we can see...your mother again. But she loves you. And we'll see her again. She's got angels watching over us." Sam brightened at that, but Dean slammed his spoon down on the table and rose.

"Dean?" John queried of his eldest son as a troubled Sam looked up at his older brother.

"What angels?" Dean demanded. "If angels are real, they suck!"

"Dean!" John snapped, and Dean winced and instinctively started to back down before he muttered.

"They don't help. They don't answer. They're just dumb. They're not even real. And if they are I hate 'em."

"Dean...angels're friends..." Sam interjected.

"No they aren't!" Dean snapped and John rose, causing Dean to cower instantly. John had never physically hurt him, [other than some normal fatherly corporal punishment], but his father was his hero and intimidated him nonetheless.

"Go to your room, Dean." Or rather, the motel bedroom. John was glaring somewhat at his eldest son, caught between anger, exasperation, sorrow, and a familiar ache that blossomed in his chest alongside the pained rage whenever his Mary was mentioned. He wasn't really angry at Dean, he understood, but he didn't want him getting Sam upset so he'd have to come and talk to Dean privately.

Dean glared heavily at his father, but he didn't dare utter a bit of argument. With a last scowl at Sam, whom he blamed for this whole affair, he stomped off to his room.

Silence reigned a good two minutes before he viciously made his way to the window and yanked the curtain aside. He glared balefully up at the twinkling stars before he sighed and closed his eyes tightly. "Look...I don't like prayin' 'cuz you guys never answer...but if you can hear me...please bring Mom back...just do that one thing...and I'll never pick on Sammy again..and I'll never be late to school or anything...eat my veggies...and...give old ladies hugs and stuff...if you do that, Dad'll be happy again and not have to fight monsters...and then Sammy'll be okay...if you won't help me, help him, please...he doesn't remember Mom at all...but he's a good kid...so he should have a Mom...please, just help me this one time and I promise I'll be good for the rest of forever! Please..."

Outside the room, there was a curse as John Winchester shot up. His hunking block of a cell phone had gone off and he'd apparently gotten a bad message. "Dean! Get out here!" he hollered and Dean darted from the room in an instant.

"Sir?" It was time to be serious.

"I'm needed," which in John-to-Dean-speak, meant a hunter was in trouble-most likely. "I'll be back soon. Watch your brother."

Dean swallowed back a plea for his father to stay and instead said dutifully, "Yes, sir."

"Daddy!" but even as Sam cried out, just like that, their father was gone.

Dean had prayed for their mother to come back. For Sammy to have her, at least. For their Dad to be happy and not have to hunt monsters anymore. So what was the first thing that happened? Some kinda trouble that took their Dad away just like that. Stupid angels.

But he made one last prayer that night anyway, that his Dad would make it back that night okay.

But when eleven a.m. two days later rolled around by the time a bloody and battered John stumbled in to his red-eyed [from sleep deprivation] eldest and red-eyed [from crying] youngest, Dean knew there were no angels. Maybe there wasn't even a God at all. But he knew one thing.

Praying was stupid, and Dean Winchester ain't stupid. So that would be last time he ever prayed again.

But he'd been wrong.

Because standing outside of a seedy motel where his brother was waiting for a she-bitch of a demon to come pay them a visit, he'd prayed.

And Castiel had answered.

When none of the dicks-with-wings would lift so much as a finger, when God had the balls to whip up this grand-ass plan for him but then not bother to help him save his brother, when everything was as messed up as it could be...there was Castiel. Naive, dopey, clueless, annoying, personal-space-invading, Castiel. The only angel worth calling an angel. The one who'd given him a reason to have at least a little sliver of the faith he'd used to have, that familiar, reassuring faith his mother had instilled in him. The one that felt vaguely like...home. Castiel had given that to him, that taste of hope in an otherwise bleak-looking future.

And what had Dean done for him? He'd let him Fall. That's what.

He'd seen the possible future. The one where Castiel was a drug-addicted, sex-crazed hippie with a hedonistic attitude that he blamed almost entirely on himself, or that version of himself, anyway. He got that there was an Apocalypse, and he got that Sammy was gone and there was no way he'd have just gotten over that. Dean could understand that his other self had probably been crushed inside, had tried to push away emotions and think as coldly and logical as possible-like a hunter. But even so, he couldn't imagine seeing Castiel-his best damned friend-turning himself into...that. He would have kicked his ass, or locked him up, or tossed him in the damn lake: anything. Anything but letting him become that. And he knew Castiel wasn't stupid. The moment the other Dean had opened his mouth to order the attack on the Croat hotstop, and Dean had reassured them, Castiel knew. He knew it was a suicide mission, but he played dumb and agreed anyway. Maybe partly in attempt to save the world but mostly? Past Dean knew it was just because Future Dean had asked. Even with nothing left, even when he'd given Dean everything, he was still ready to give him whatever crap life he had left.

And that meant something, damnit.

"We had an apppointment."

"Don't you ever change."

And Castiel had given him the faintest quirk of his lips, something almost like a smile as he regarded Dean with what he supposed was amusement, maybe fondness. He'd taught the angel that, given him the means to be that way.

"This is a den of iniquity! I should not be here!"

"Dude. You full on rebelled against Heaven. Iniquity is one of the perks."

For the first time in so long, Dean had actually laughed. It was like taking a little brother to the strip club for the first time, something he'd never actually gotten to do with Sammy. As bad ass as Castiel could be, sometimes he was just such a...nerd angel. And despite everything, the whole possibility of the world ending, Castiel had let Dean drag him there and have his fun. And the rare expressions had been priceless, the dude looked like he might faint. Sure, he'd gone and disappeared like a jerk, but it was alright.

Different from his former expressionlessness, or those faintly 'superior' looks he was sure he'd seen the first time he'd met Castiel and the time the other had gotten ass-reamed in Heaven.

"I don't serve man, and I certainly don't serve you."

That's what he said, but in the end, with an angel blade pressed up against his stomach-Castiel had opted to save him and his brother and defy not only his father, but his home, his brothers, his angelic life. His life in general, really. And how had Dean repaid him?

With failure. Freaking failure. And almost giving up. And no joke.

Don't piss off the nerd angels.

Castiel had royally kicked his ass after his dumb ass move of trying to run away. And what he said then, and that day at the hospital...

"I fell for this?"

"I gave up everything for you. And you failed."

Dean probably would have deserved a Helluva lot more than he got, but in the end, Castiel had simply knocked him out and brought him to Singer Salvage, which was the closest thing to a physical home that the Winchesters had. Up until it had been blasted. Just another blow to their messed up family, already sans it's trench-coated part.

All because the bastard hadn't just come to him for help.

No, instead, he'd gone to Crowley to make a deal. To make himself the big man on campus. He'd released a dimension locked up by the real big man himself and ended up swallowing the biggest baddies in the book. Rafael was dead, and a host of angels besides as far as he knew. Balthazar was most likely dead, after helping them, and Castiel was likely the one that had done it. And as much as he'd like to say it was because Castiel had gone all Purgatory-crazy, he hadn't so much as touched it the whole time he lied to them, and went behind their backs, and half-assedly brought up Sam while raising their psycho grandfather as well. As far as Dean was concerned, he'd let Lisa and Ben get kidnapped and was at least partially responsible for his having to give them up without even a single memory. A time that meant more to him than he could say, and they didn't remember. A woman that might have been his wife and a kick ass kid he damn well wished was his son. Gone, because of that trenchcoat wearing ass.

"You said we were like family. Well I think that too. Shouldn't trust run both ways? I have saved you, yet again. Despite your lack of faith in me and now your threats. I always come when you call. Who but your closest kin has ever done more for you?"

Those words had been like a shot in his heart. He'd gone chick-flick and told Castiel he was like a brother to him, and Castiel's only response had basically been a big fat 'screw you'. And now, with Lisa and Ben on the line, suddenly they were family. And damned if his words didn't make sense but...he couldn't do it. Dean knew better. Castiel had watched Dean defend him, to remain loyal, and he'd gone 'darkside' anyway. He was like a friggen child, a baby in a trenchchoat. And then the big kicker. After he'd pulverized Sam's wall, thereby possibly losing him his brother as well.

"We were like family once. If that means anything to you...please...I've lost Ben and Lisa. I just lost Sam. Don't make me lose you too."

"You're just saying that because you're afraid. Because I won. You're not my family, Dean. I have no family."

That hurt him in a way Dean didn't think anyone but Sam, and maybe Bobby, could hurt him. In a way that he wasn't sure that he could really be hurt anymore. He'd been beaten down so many damned times, there was only so much he could take. But still, somehow, against the odds and the 'broken' man that had returned from Hell...Dean could still be hurt. And still try. But Castiel would have none of it. And then he'd turned around and called them pets, let them live out of his great 'mercy', and gone on a killing-spree. So finally, Dean had called it an official quits. He was ready to let Death have the bastard, because however much he might have missed Cas, he wasn't some little bitch: he was a hunter. And Castiel was the evil sonuvabitch that needed hunting.

Which made it all the more confusing when a half-dead Castiel showed up to ask for help at the moment Dean had once again lost all hope and faith and was ready to drink his sorrows away. And there was hope again, coupled with the sickening realization that whether Castiel was Cas again or not, he was going to have to die. Really die. No get-out-of-jail-free cards anymore, no way, not after what he'd done.

The angel, his pain-in-the-ass angel, had stood at the gate of Purgatory and stared at him with perhaps the most emotion he'd ever seen in those eyes, save when Jimmy was actually running the show.

"I'm sorry, Dean."

And then he was gone. Just long enough to scare the shit out of them by coming back and acting like...Cas again. Sheepish. Idiotic in an angelic way. Loosely formal.

"I will find a way to redeem myself to you. I mean it, Dean."

And there it was again, that flicker of hope, that possibility that they might all get through this and there was a damned pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Castiel wasn't forgiven, but he was damned sure welcome home.

"Run! Dean, they're so strong...Leviathon!"

"Cas is...mmm...dead!"

After everything they'd been through. Hell and back. Heaven and back. Apocalypse and back. 'Den of iniquity' and back. The past and back. And everything in between...

Castiel. His best friend, one-time-big-baddie, pain-in-the-ass-angel, baby-in-a-trenchcoat, sometimes little-sometimes big brother was gone.

And this scrap of clothing was all he had left of the angel-slash-man who'd seen something in Dean worth saving even when he didn't see it in himself.

Dean had limped and hopped, in a very manly way-of course- to the little box in the corner that held Castiel's trenchcoat. And with all of those memories running through his mind, he'd picked it up and simply held it.

"You stupid sonuvabitch." Dean whispered to the coat. He didn't do chick-flicks, and this sure as Hell wasn't one now. This was just...an expression of grief. It was the only thing he could do. There was nothing to salt-and-burn. Nothing like a goodbye. His friend had reached out to him one last time only to swallowed by the very things he'd 'gulped down' as Death had put it.

Dean brushed his thumb against the faintly gritty fabric. If there had been a scent, it was gone now, replaced by the acrid scent of the inky waters it had risen from. It didn't smell like Cas, if he ever had a smell to begin with and Dean found himself wondering vaguely about that. Did angels have a smell? Anna had, but she'd been human at the time, not really an angel. He guessed Castiel would smell like the Impala, maybe. Or their cheap motel rooms. Or Hell, even blood these days. That was a shame. If he'd had time, maybe...who knows, maybe he could have given Castiel something better. Something like his favorite Heaven.

"I was getting too close to the humans in my charge. You."

"You and me both, you pain in the ass. I'm supposed to hate all you bastards. Who the Hell are you to be different, huh?" he gripped the trenchcoat suddenly.

"Prayer is a sign of faith. This is a good thing."

"You know what? Screw you! I was fine not having faith, you asshole! Not everyone wants to believe! ...Now what am I supposed to do, huh?"

Dean's voice cracked just slightly, though he'd never admit it, and the sting in his eyes wasn't tears-it was just his eyes burning because...he was so damned tired. And as he gripped the trenchcoat, he pulled it close and lowered his head as he pressed it tightly against his chest as he allowed himself a moment. Dean's voice was little more than a whisper.

"You made me believe, you asshole. You gave me faith...in you. If you're not here, what the Hell am I supposed to believe in? Sammy's too messed up to keep me straight, Bobby's doing what he can, but man...you're my wingman, dude. You're supposed to be here. Kick my ass when I need it. Tell me there's something about me that was worth bringing up from downstairs. Give me one of those stupid looks and pretend you understand just to shut me up. Damnit! Tell me you were wrong and just say it! We were family, you bastard..."

Dean's head lowered to touch the fabric, and the wetness he felt wasn't tears, no way, it was just that the trenchcoat was still a little wet, that's all.

"You're the only faith I got. You want me to pray? Here it is man. Castiel, you get your feathery ass back here now. ...Please." And then Dean lifted his gaze to the ceiling, skyward.

"God if you're listening...then listen up. I've done everything for you, damnit. Yeah, I derailed your big plan but so the Hell what? You've taken everything from me. What the Hell did I do to deserve it? What did Mom and Dad do...Sammy...Lisa and Ben...Pastor Jim...Caleb...all those people...that I couldn't..." there was a faint hitch in his voice and he growled in frustration before he continued angrily. "You wanna punish someone? Punish me! But do your damned job! Fix your messes! I ain't your cleaning crew! Castiel loved you, man, and you screwed him over. So you better bring him back. Or so help me, when I die, I'm gonna find you and kick your ass."

Maybe God was listening, and maybe he'd smite him, or send him back to Hell, or find another way to screw him over. Maybe he didn't care either way. But Dean wasn't going to beg, and he sure as Hell wasn't going to play ball for this dude. Dean cared about his broken little family, and about the world-shitty as it was-and the people in it, less so maybe than he used to-but still...maybe Famine was right, and he was dead inside, but he could still feel. He could still bleed, and ache, and he could still fight.

Silence reigned in the cabin for a moment. But there was no lightning strike, no holy fire, no godly justice pouring down on Dean.

But there was no Cas either. No angel to cock his head with a mixture of confusion and exasperation. No reluctant amusement and affection. No invasion of his personal space that-at the moment-he'd welcome with open arms. There was just silence, like always.

"It's like I said Cas, you're the only faith I've got. You're the only one that ever answered, you stupid son of a bitch."

But this time, there was no answer, not even from Castiel himself.

Where did dead angels go, anyway? Purgatory? Or was that just the monsters? Or maybe they just...were gone.

Dean gazed down at the trenchcoat in his hands, wrinkled from his tight grip. "Don't you worry, Cas. We'll fix this, same as always. Team Free Will isn't going down without a fight. We'll save the world again...and if I have to kick every angel's ass here to Heaven to get you back, well. Let's just say don't get too cozy on your little vacation, got it? You don't get to check out. Not you, or Sammy, or Bobby, or anyone. So just sit tight." he murmured as he slid the coat back into the box, and gave it one last touch before he closed it and put the box away.

Dean was silent a moment before he said softly. "I'll get you back, bro. Have faith in me."

And when Sam returned some odd minutes later, with no damned pie-the bitch-he gave no indication of his feelings. But they were still there, alongside his newfound determination. Maybe it was stupid as Hell, and impossible, and maybe they were already screwed but damnit, Castiel had given him back faith and hope and all that crap.

So it was only fair that he return the favor. And believe.

They would save the day. And fix Sam. And they would get Castiel back. Because thanks to that irritating, naive, quirky, stubborn, clingy, bitchy, loyal, fierce, fucking awesome angel who'd 'gripped him tight and saved him perdition', who'd seen something in him worth saving, who'd helped defend his family...

Dean had faith.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

Wow. So this turned into a little one-shot on the trenchcoat into...this. Hopefully it was a good read. Maybe a tear-jerker. Or something. XD I tried to stay in character whilst also going a little deeper into the complicated heart of Dean Winchester. So enjoy! And leave me verbal hugs...because I definitely need them after all of this angst. ;-; -Witchy.