AN: So this is it guys - the final chapter. The End.
I just wanted to thank everyone who's stuck by me during this, whether you were there from the start or you just began reading. It means a hell of a lot to me. All of your kind words and messages and fan-art and fanfictions based on this world… it's just been more amazing that I ever could have thought. This was just something I started when I first started university, and now I'm part way through my second year and it's unbelievable how much has happened. You guys have really kept me going, just waking up in the mornings to new comments and reviews has made me ridiculously happy. Even when I lost inspiration, you stood by and without your sweetness, this project might have been scrapped altogether. I hope it was as much fun for you as it was for me.
Hopefully this place we've created won't ever really die. Or maybe I'm just holding on so much because this has been a year of my life (which I would never take back).
There's more fun stuff on the tumblr blog, and a competition is running that'd I'd love you guys to check out, because it would mean the world to me: angel-on-the-radio.*tumbl*r.*com*/post/37056067767/okay-so-what-if-we-had-a-competition and I even have a new SPN-based fanfiction starting to organise itself in my head, so stick around for that if you've liked this.
Anyway, just thank-you. I love all of my little Demons. New and old, and I hope you enjoy this!
Sitting in the interview room again, significantly more concentrated now than he had been the night before, Dean's mind was still back in the car with his father. There was nothing but silence broken up by a low static buzz of music fizzling from the radio; and Dean did all he could not to think of Angel's Demons. John didn't speak, he just stared out at the road ahead, his features were heavy like a stone sculpture of himself, chiselled and hard. Dean knew better than to interrupt him, John was brooding, he was thinking. It would be obvious enough once he had settled himself into some kind of decision on the matter – this was only an expression Dean had witnessed for very serious issues, and normally it didn't last this long.
His eyes snapped away from the spot he'd been burning into the floor to meet the eyes of the cop who'd be taking his statement. It took him a moment, but a slight smile pulled into place and he nodded, taking hold of the sides of the chair he was sat in and swallowing hard.
"How are you feeling?"
"Nervous," he admitted, the corner of his mouth twitching upwards briefly. "I just want to see Cas again."
"Once we take and review your statements, you should both be free to go," she said with a warmth his previous interrogator hadn't quite possessed. "Are you ready to get started?"
Dean nodded again, watching her finger press down on the record button of the little silver device between them. He almost faded back to the car again while he waited for her to start those obligatory record keeping opening lines before she addressed him again, asking why he had been at the Garage.
"I work there for my dad during school breaks – Cas was staying with me over Christmas, so he was there working too. We were closing up the place when Michael came."
"Alright, thank-you, and why was Mr Novak staying with you?"
"Because of his history with Michael," Dean said delicately choosing his words after a pause, "because I thought it would be safer for him to stay with me."
The questions went on until they started to overlap significantly with the conversation he had had with his family before he and John had left for the station. John was outside now, in the car parked around back; still brooding as he had been, Dean supposed. He sat in the waiting room at the front of the station on those hard plastic chairs that had felt the weight of so many criminals and relatives and friends, waiting for Cas. Sat there for close to half an hour before he relocated to the steps out front, not wanting to be anywhere near that particularly pungent scent of the police station any more.
They told him he was free to go, but asked him to give them a call if he ever considered leaving the state within the next few months, figured that was in case some amazing new evidence emerged that implicated him in some way, which didn't seem likely. Maybe if it went to trial, which all of these kinds of cases tended to (according to his extensive knowledge of criminal persecution shows).
He turned to the sound of a foot scuffing the concrete steps, Cas trying to get his attention. Man did the guy look exhausted, the dark rings under his eyes seemed more pronounced than usual, lids drooping, whole body near limp. Dean looked half normal stood next to him, as he was when he closed the gap and pulled him into a hug without even thinking. The strange thing? Cas barely stiffened for more than a second once he had gotten over the initial surprise when he hadn't been expecting it, and a few moments after that he was slinking his wrists around Dean's waist to hold him that little bit closer. And there was a soft desperation, a warmth in the closeness. Dean realised quickly after he had initiated the embrace that it was probably a little too forward, but he realised a second at that that he really didn't care.
Somehow when they pulled away, Cas' hand managed to cup Dean's face, dragging a thumb over his cheekbone gently and tracing over the brown-sugar dusting of freckles marked with a deep bruise centred around a swollen cut. It was the sleepy, blue eyes examining him that made Dean's hair stand on-end, his skin a little extra sensitive, his stomach twisting and tossing. His nostril's flared slightly as he inhaled a stunted breath before he moved in a fraction of an inch… and Cas' dozy smile faltered just a little to something that could be better described as worry with just a hint of pity. His hand slid closer to Dean's chin, thumb now brushing his bottom lip, and he mouthed something that looked like 'later' before he took a final long look and stepped away.
Dean watched all of this unfold, but he didn't quite feel like he was a part of it, it all felt quite distant. He nodded with some distraction and followed Cas' lead to put an unnecessary amount of space between them before he inclined his head towards the direction of the car (out of sight of them, thank God) and said something about his dad waiting before he led Cas back. He knew he should feel embarrassed or confused, or let down, something but in reality he was just glad to have Cas back with him. He had felt, without realising completely, like he had been missing an arm, like Cas was a part of him, like after all they'd been through together, that now they shared a more profound bond.
They spent a few hours in the house not really doing anything, not really talking. Dean just felt awkward more than anything now, after having admitted to his family how he felt about Cas without ever really being able to say it to the boy himself. The last thing he wanted would be to display that publically to them all now, and more than anything he needed some time to himself to just think and recount the events of the past two days. It was close to seven in the evening when the phone rang. It echoed through the house which had become surprisingly quiet when there was usually a battle of sound between TVs and music playing just on the threshold of 'too loud'. Dean heard his name being called by a voice he couldn't even take the time to recognise before he made his way downstairs, Mary handing him the phone with a touch of worry in her expression.
"This is Sheriff Mills of the Lawrence, Kansas Police Department, I'm calling to let you know that there are no charges being held against you or Mr Novak in regards to the death of Michael Milton, we recommend that you don't leave the state without notifying us in advance for the next four months in case we need you for further questioning, but for now, you shouldn't have anything to worry about."
"That was quick," Dean said without really thinking.
"Considering the statements both of you gave, and your histories with the victim, as well as the forensics reports and blood splatter analysis, it's pretty open and shut. Like I said, there shouldn't be anything for you to worry about at this time."
"Thanks, I'll pass the message on to Cas."
"Have a good day, Mr Winchester."
Dean held the phone to his ear for another moment trying to think of something else to say, but for lack of anything he hung up and turned. Cas was standing in the doorway, Mary still beside him, he shrugged, "they aren't pressing charges, we're as good as innocent." The relief that washed over Mary was evident, but Cas was a little more subtle, obviously still carrying the burden of Michael's death with him quite heavily. And suddenly Dean felt bad for avoiding him since they'd gotten back. That really was a dick move on his part.
"Hey Cas, c'mon, let's go for a walk." He looked across at his mum for a second and with no obvious change in her expression he took that as an okay for them to go off. He looked back in time to see Cas nod in response.
"You're not going to tie me to a tree in the woods, are you?" Cas said with the hopeful beginnings of a smile touching the corners of his mouth as he looked across at Dean tentatively once they were clear of the house and heading away from the town. Just walking along the sidewalks lined with pretty little houses and a thickening population of trees.
"Don't reckon I could put a bullet between your puppy eyes," Dean replied with something a little sweeter than a smirk. And Cas' more confident smile in return, restored Dean's faith just enough before it plummeted down like his eyes to his feet, "look, I'm sorry about earlier."
"No," Cas replied a little solemnly, "I just didn't want to lead you into doing something where someone you know might see us."
Dean's head snapped back up to meet Cas' eye.
"You… weren't talking about that, were you?"
"I was talking about avoiding you after I… yeah, I'm sorry about that but, what?"
Cas cringed slightly, but he looked more carefree now than he had done in weeks. He looked for a moment as if he were going to talk about their 'almost-kiss', but instead he just chuckled that gruff chuckle of his and stared ahead towards the sky, looking like a lizard soaking in the sun that tickled across his porcelain skin. "We should get away, somewhere no one knows us."
"Out of Lawrence?"
"Out of Kansas."
Dean very nearly jumped at the idea there and then, but there was a pang in his heart and in his head, Sam and Jo and his parents and grandparents, everyone he loved. They were all here. Could he really just ditch all of that?
Cas must have looked across again long enough to notice that glint of uncertainty in his expression because he started talking again, taking a more gentle approach, "we'll come back. We could just get in a car and drive and drive, we could see everything this place has to show, we could sleep under the stars and eat what we find, we could do what we want. But we'll come back through, we'll see your family, heck we could take Sam with us once he finishes High School."
Dean smiled humourlessly and muttered something so inaudible that made Cas turn with a frown to ask 'what?'; "Stanford," Dean repeated, "Sam'll go to Stanford, he'll get some fancy degree, some fancy job, he'll get a wife and kids. Once he goes to College, he'll never come back home, Apple-pie life'll be too sweet for him to resist. Hell, he deserves it."
"So you want to stick around here and watch him grow up?"
"I want to be here for him. He needs me. I need him."
Cas chewed on his lip for a moment, and Dean sensed he understood, but at the same time he felt torn, between his family and his… his what? His Cas? "I can't stay here, not anymore," Cas said, prematurely ripping him from his stream of thought, "and I need you."
"Cas, please, don't make me pick between you and him."
"I need to leave, Dean, I need to get away from here, I just… I can't go back. Because if I have to see those faces again, if I have to see that place again, this place again, I'm afraid I might kill myself."
Dean stopped in his tracks at that and looked Cas straight in the eye, "don't you ever. Don't you dare think about checking out early, Cas." There was a seriousness to his tone, and a look on his face that was so harsh, so unforgiving that it made Cas take a step back, swallowing hard to choke back any tears that might have been forming, but the seriousness in his own face might have made Dean well up too. "Promise me, right now, no matter what, you won't ever do that. I swear. I fought too hard to get you free of that crap to lose you."
"You're an idiot," Dean said, turning away viciously, pulling a hand down his forehead and swiping it back up through a mess of blond hair before he whipped back around, but he could barely look Cas in the eye, "you're an idiot Cas, because I love you, okay? And if you start saying shit like this to me I'll… fuck…"
Cas really was crying now, when Dean managed to look him in the eyes, his own hot as fire, but he wasn't sobbing, the tears just rolled down his sallow cheeks, catching on rough beginnings of stubble that had grown out quickly with him not having shaved the past few days. Dean watched, breathing heavily, just waiting for him to say something, anything. But he didn't, he didn't say a word. Just slowly, so slowly, he closed that gap between them, a look in his eyes something of a mix of apology and an acquisition of permission. And then his hand slipped past Dean's waist again, fingertips tracing his spine downwards, palm following the curve of the muscles on his back. Reaching, feeling, trying to put some calm in him, trying to promise that as long as he had Dean, he wouldn't do anything so careless. The slightest response from Dean, with their eyes so fully connected now, green on blue, Cas pressed his lips against Dean's; just like he had imagined more times than he cared to admit, so full and feminine, but not half as soft. Still, there was a gentleness to this kiss, a tenderness and that promise. And though his stomach twisted, and he became so completely aware of his surroundings, it didn't take much to push that away.
The wet heat of a tongue pressing, parting his lips, head inclining just enough to grant Cas access… he tasted of something more than Dean could ever hope to describe, like smoke and danger and faintly of cinnamon and watermelon; he had a taste all of his own, so bitterly sweet, musky and so many perfect imperfections that he knew he would only experience it so fully in this moment and never again could he hope to replicate it in his own mind. That slight sting of stubble reminded him that his arms were hanging limp by his sides, and as he slowly uncurled his fists he found them moving naturally to cup Cas' face and rest at his hipbone. The rhythm, the tingle of their tongues caught in the spark of a strange dance he had never quite felt in such a way as this.
It was so delicate and heartfelt. Like they had both been waiting an eternity for this moment, and maybe they had been. And though neither of them seemed to want to pull away, eventually the kiss came to a natural finale and their forehead's pressed together for a moment, as they just breathed in each other's scents and tried to make sense of what they were feeling, trying to get their hearts to stop beating with such an intensity, trying to catch their breath. Dean's skin was buzzing with excitement as his hand slid from Cas' jaw to his neck, thumb brushing his bottom lip – puffy and a deeper shade of pink than usual – before he pressed a light kiss against it, so fleeting that they barely touched.
He pulled away just enough that he could look Cas in the eye as he said, "I'll come with you."
Endings are hard. Dean had always known that, when he left high-school, when he left home for university, every time he had tried to finish anything from an essay to a relationship, he found it difficult. He would usually blame it on procrastination, because he could never finish what he…
He'd never exactly had a way with words, and he was finding that a particular struggle as he leaned over a notepad in his room, trying to explain somehow why he was leaving, and why he couldn't tell them. The truth being that he just couldn't say goodbye to his family. He couldn't. He loved them more than anything, he put them before himself at every turn, he would risk his life for them – and in a way, he could see Cas as family for that same reason; which was why he was so torn now. But he could see that what his life was leading him to now. He and Cas they had some purpose, some red string tying them together despite all of the odds.
He'd never much been one for coincidence.
In the last few lines, he scrolled some horrible apology to his dad. To John. Who still hadn't enlightened him to the outcome of his seemingly endless contemplations. But at this point he could only assume the worst. He wasn't sorry for what he was feeling, he was just sorry that he might not have lived up to John's expectations: of a son with a horde of kids and a wife and a nice house with a porch-swing and a dog.
He looked up suddenly to see Sam standing in the doorway, and he smiled a trademark half-smile.
"Why are you crying?" he asked, tilting his head in such a way that made his hair flop in front of his face. Dean frowned and touched a finger to his cheek, surprised to find it wet with tears he hadn't realised he'd been crying.
"C'mere, Sammy, close the door behind you." He spread his smile a little to hide any hint of sorrow, but it didn't quite reach his eyes, knowing what was coming. Sam hesitated for a moment, but there was still that look of innocence in his eyes as he pressed the door closed and took a seat on the bed next to his brother. "I gotta tell you somethin', Sam," he said after a moment, "me and Cas… we're leaving."
Sam stared at him for what seemed like quite a long time before his face scrunched up into a frown, "what? Where? You're going back to KU early?"
Dean sucked on his lip for a moment before he shook his head, "no, we're leaving here, everywhere. Goin' on a trip."
Sam looked horror-struck, leaning forward as if searching his brother's expression for some hint of a joke or a tease, but he knew him too well – he couldn't even imagine it was there to placate himself. "F-for how long?"
"I don't know."
"No Dean, no – you can't!"
"I'm sorry, Sammy—"
"Nu-uh. No, don't call me Sammy, Dean, you know I hate it."
Dean swallowed hard watching tears forming in his baby brother's eyes and for a moment he wondered why in hell he had made the decision to leave the kid behind. "We'll come back, we'll pass through every few weeks, months… I don't know. It won't be forever, I promise."
"But Dean…" he couldn't even find the words to argue, his voice had already cracked enough to make him turn away for fear of letting his big brother see him cry – when had he become so self-conscious? "Please, you can't leave me."
"I can't take you, and I can't stay – not after all of this."
Even Sam's lip was quivering, Jesus. He could feel that burning heat at the back of his throat, the prickling needles behind his eyes. Fuck. He couldn't choke up, he had to stay strong in front of Sam, he had to draw back the rest of his tears, had to keep himself together.
"Samm- Sam, this isn't the end, not really. We'll be back through here so much. I don't want to leave you, but I need to get out, we both do. We'll take you with us for a few weeks over the summer, I'll be here for you. And I'm always a call away, you know that. You knew that when I was at University."
He was biting his lip, trying not to cry out, trying to keep himself together as much as Dean, because just like the older Winchester wanted to make John proud, Sam wanted to make Dean proud. And though Dean knew that, he wanted more than anything to push those thoughts away right now, because he knew he couldn't handle it. "Okay."
"Come on, help me get some stuff into the car."
Sam's eyes widened, "you're taking the car? You're taking dad's car?"
Dean's eyebrow flicked upwards in reply.
"Are you crazy, Dean? As soon as he finds it's gone he'll hunt you down and kill you!"
"What have I got to lose?"
"Come on, just help me."
They left in the night. Sam stood in the garage watching Dean and Cas climb into the Impala. There was so much history in that car, vacations and arguments, long sleep-filled journeys, childish games – if Dean couldn't take his family, he was adamant about taking that car. It would be worth the hell on Earth that would come from John hearing the garage door open and the roar of the engine firing up. Last minute, Dean climbed back out to walk to Sam, stood by the door, locked in case John or Mary tried to interrupt their grand escape.
"I'll miss you, Sammy," he said, ruffling Sam's hair, but his brother needed more than that, pulling him into a tight hug, "look after mom, okay?" Sam nodded into his chest, but he could feel him heaving from holding back tears. Dean rubbed his back a little quickly to let himself pull away, he couldn't start crying now, he had a road to focus on. And there were plenty of roads where they were going. "I'll be back before you know it."
Quickly as that, Dean was back in the car, the creaky garage door clunking as the mechanism pulled it up, loud enough to wake the whole street, it sounded like. As soon as it was wide enough for them to escape, Dean started up the engine with that beautiful roar that gave him chills, despite the emotions running high in him, he couldn't help stroking the dash and murmuring, "that's it baby," earning him a confused head-tilt from Cas in the passenger seat. And then they were gone. Darkness peeled aside by the two white beams of light guiding them onward to God-knows-where.
They were only a few miles out, and a few minutes after one in the morning that Dean could feel his phone buzzing, cutting his conversation with Cas short as he managed to pull it out of his jacket-pocket to see his dad's name flashing on the screen. He bit his lip but tossed it into the cup-holder, making it vibrate with more ferocity until it finally ceased.
Then, one more buzz.
Cas' eyes traced the screen before it went dark, "you want to check that?"
Chewing on his lip still with indecision he finally nodded, flipping it open, pressing the dial button to hear the message before he held it to his ear.
"You have one new message—
"Dean… I don't know what crap you're pulling running off like this but your mom and brother are a mess… Sam showed us your letter, and look – I understand, I do but…
"I'm not disappointed in you. I don't care who you love, I don't care what you do, as long as you… I just hope you didn't leave because of me. I don't hate you, Dean, you're my son. I trust you to make the right decisions, and your own decisions at that.
"Don't stay gone for too long, and for God's sake answer your phone when I call.
"But above all, just remember… if there is even a scratch on that car when you come back, I will kill your sorry ass. Do you hear me?
End of message."
Dean snapped the phone shut in his hand again, staring for it as long as high driving skills would allow, and then he slid it back into the cup-holder.
"Is everything okay?" Cas asked, breaking through the silence, and Dean took a moment before he looked across and smiled, "everything's fine," he said, reaching forward to switch on the radio and crank up the volume as an old Kansas tune came on, his smile widened as he leaned back into the seat, one hand tapping a drum beat into the steering wheel while the other rested on the gearstick, Cas' hand moving to sit softly on top of his. "Everything's just fine."