Summer was turning to fall much too quickly, yet the sun still shone high and bright in the sky. Castiel peered up at it, praying each day for it to keep himself and the others warm for just a few more days. He remembers how winter froze him to the core just a few months ago. The cold air seemed to seep into his bones, numbing his muscles. During the cold months the guards would give them less food, making their days all the more agonizing and slow.
Castiel remembers when he first arrived. He was scared, so scared. Afraid of freezing to death. Or starving to death. His first day working, he remembers it being loud, so very loud. It was as if the sound of chopping wood and metal clanking against metal soaked through the trees then reverberated back at the labor camp, similar to a boomerang. The constant banging and chopping, the flick of a lighter, sighs and grunts, seemed like a song. A type of music only found in the far reaches of the mountains and only known by these such prisoners.
The sun was far from setting and Castiel looked up at the cloudless sky. His eyes slowly panned down to the trees, then farther, watching the muscles move through Sam's torn shirt. Sam could feel Castiel's eyes on him, could always feel those eyes. He remembers when he first arrived at the camp, how dark and dirty it was. Castiel looked right at him, but didn't realize that it was him.
"Give it back, Sam," Castiel whined, pushing the taller boy's arms away and reaching up toward the sheets of paper in his hand. Sam towered over him, smirking. "Give it!" Sam backed away and squinted down at the papers.
"Is this me?" Sam held a sketch up. Castiel blushed and snatched the paper away. "This is us." Sam held up another one. "When I was twelve, we picked blueberries and Dean fell into the lake. I remember that." Castiel sat down under the tall oak tree, his back leaning against the trunk. Sam still stared down at the sketch. He handed the paper back to Castiel and sat down next to him. "Those are really good."
"Mmm," Castiel said, annoyed.
"They are! You could become rich, Cas, you have talent."
"Right, farmer boy becoming a big shot artist." Sam leaned back against the tree and let his leg fall against Castiel's.
"Why do you draw me?" Sam looked at him, and he shrugged. "Tell me." Sam nudged him on the shoulder. "Is it because I'm so very handsome?"
"Possibly." Sam's hand rested on Castiel's thigh, his heart began beating in his throat as Sam leaned in. Cas drew in a sharp breath when their mouths met. It felt like a second went by and it was over.
"Come on, it's too hot out here." Sam helped Castiel up, they walked the length of the land back to their houses. Their hands somehow found each other's as they slowly made their way back home. Sam leaned down and kissed Castiel once again before they parted, they looked back at each other as they entered their respective houses.
Castiel remembers Sam scowling but when his eyes flickered to Cas', they softened for just a moment. It took him at least a week to realize who it was. He took it upon himself to show Sam the ropes, Cas could tell he would be trouble. With his hard exterior and all. Cas was correct, first night, Sam got into a fight which landed him a good beating from a guard.
"Leave me alone." Was the first thing Sam said to him. He thought that those feelings had long passed, that Castiel would never feel an ounce of adoration for him ever again.
"My god," Castiel said when the light caught Sam's cheekbones. "It is you." Sam smiled a little. "Why didn't you say anything, Winchester?" Cas punched him on the arm.
"I thought...I don't know," Sam laid down in his bunk, which was pushed up against Castiel's. He held a dirty cloth against a cut above his black eye. "I thought you didn't want anything to do with me, after all this time."
"Still an idiot, I see." Castiel received a punch on the arm in return. Cas told him he'd wear out faster if he kept getting into trouble, he told Sam that it wasn't worth the extra aches and pains. Once Sam got used to the camp he started to soften, living day to day as Cas had been for five years. Their bond formed again quickly, they agreed to watch each other's backs. As the days slowly passed, they became closer than ever, literally. They were always shoulder to shoulder, when they ate what small ration was provided, even when Sam smoked outside. Surviving in such small quarters, Castiel had gotten used to Sam's body heat against his at night, even breaths against Cas' neck. The night when Sam shifter closer, searching unconsciously for warmth, and reached his arm around Castiel pulling him closer to his chest, Cas knew those feelings were arising once again.
It all changed one night, when everyone was asleep and there was a stillness to the camp. Castiel had noticed how long Sam's hair was getting, how he pushed it away from his face almost constantly. He borrowed a pair of rusty scissors from a neighboring laborer and led Sam to the back of the creaky structure. There was an open window with a perfect view of the full moon. They sat under it, light cascading down onto them.
"So, how's your father?" Castiel had asked him as he slowly trimmed the younger man's hair.
"Father got sick. We moved around a lot trying to find better doctors, better medicine." Sam's Scottish accent was thick around his words, he never took his eyes off of the moon as he spoke. "He was near death when I was arrested. I hope Dean took care of him." Castiel moved in front of Sam, angling his face so he could trim the fringe. "Not too short," he said.
"Of course he is. How did you end up in here?"
"I stole bread because we had no food and they caught me." Sam laughed a little at the absurdity of it. Castiel lowered the scissors, then brushed the stray hairs from Sam's shirt. With a smile Cas gently ruffled his hair. Sam caught his hand when it inches away from his face. He turned Cas' hand palm side up, all the while holding his gaze, and pressed his lips to the rough flesh. Castiel inhaled sharply and drew back, shaking his head. In an instant Sam had moved closer, his large hand behind Castiel's neck, drawing both their lips together. Castiel fought, trying to push Sam away and squirming against the wall repeating, "We can't."
"I know. I know," Sam said against his lips. Sam had the other man pinned against the wall, body pressed against Cas' harshly, but his kisses were soft and gentle. Castiel soon relaxed into the kiss, hands pulling on Sam's shirt, attempting to bring him closer. Sam's mouth moved away from his and kissed down his cheek and neck. Castiel exhaled, as he closed his eyes he thought, this is not good.
Now, each day was a constant routine. A deadly routine. Slowly killing each and every one of them. Castiel knew, given how much he ached. Some days it felt as if his bones were on fire. He often thought he would collapse after each hammer blow. It only got worse with each passing day. It was getting harder to move. He felt ancient.
Sam had been there a year and three months now. The callous on his hand kept splitting open, making it even more painful to work. He began noticing Castiel getting weaker. He nodded off at dinner all too often nowadays, body leaning against Sam's in an effort to stay upright. At night, when they usually talked in hushed murmurs, Cas would fall asleep the moment he laid down. Sam had begun resting his palm on Cas' chest, always making sure his heart was still beating.
Today, Cas was working slowly. Noticeably slowly. It didn't take long for a guard to haul him off. Sam didn't see him for the rest of the day. The sun set and the workers got dinner, Sam hid half of his own and went to the sleeping quarters.
In the far corner of the room, under the window, he found Cas. He was facing the wall. Blood soaked through his shirt. He heard Sam's footsteps slowly approach behind him. "Here," he said softly, handing Castiel a hardened piece of bread. Cas broke it in half and handed the bigger piece to Sam, who chuckled. "I saved it for you."
"I insist," Cas said, wincing as he shifted his weight on the cold ground. Sam waved his hand away, he picked up a bucket of water, provided for them to wash with, and a small cloth.
"They'll kill you if you use it all," Cas commented, Russian accent around his words.
"A black eye is nothing." Sam sat behind him and slowly pulled up Cas' shirt. He dipped the cloth into the chilled water then cupped it in his hands to warm it slightly. He ran the cloth gently over bloodied whip marks. Castiel moaned in pain, and Sam slowed his movements. He cleaned him up the best he could. Cas felt the cloth move away from his skin then felt Sam's cool lips against his shoulder. "I know a way out," he whispered.
"What?" Cas turned around to face him.
"When they hauled me off for a beating a few weeks ago, I saw a cut in the fence. It's tiny, but big enough for us both to fit through."
"The dogs will get us before we reach the woods or the guards will shoot us before we get a foot away," Cas looked down and bit into his bread.
"Not if it rains, hard. That hurricane has to be moving closer now. If the winds are fierce enough and we're fast they wont see us." Castiel was considering it. He felt old, how would he feel after four more years? Would he even last another four years? Would he last another day? Sam stared at him with such hope. Cas saw a light in Sam he hasn't seen in years. "The opening is on the left, all the guards do in that tower is play cards."
"How would you know that?" Cas teased him.
"Last week, I looked up there and didn't see anything, no one standing and watching the ground. Cas, can't you see? This is perfect." Sam gripped his shoulders. Castiel looked into his eyes and after a while he cupped Sam's face.
"We'll need food and more sweaters," he said.
Castiel now thought of death more than ever. More so now then when he stared in the face of the men that condemned him, with their guns that could kill him at any second. Even more than thinking of himself dying, he thought of Sam dying. How he got a certain feeling in his chest at the thought of a bullet rippling through the air and piercing Sam's flesh, leaving him to suffer, then finally escape the world. He seemed to be feeling a new found sense of fear, fear of losing someone he, perhaps, loves. Those feelings often flooded his brain and filled him with anxiety. He was so fearful. His fear only grew each time they stopped and rested in the evening. He thought, dreamed, that something would happen. That they would be found. That Sam would be taken from him, yet again. Men coming through the trees and tearing them apart or even animals coming to kill them. His eyes often stayed open, listening to every rustle of leaves, while Sam slumbered beside him. He would dwindle on the edge of unconscious, listening to Sam's slow breaths as he once did in the labor camp.
As Castiel often thought of death, Sam thought himself an optimist. He was enjoying trekking through the woods, as he once had long before he entered the camp. It reminded him of his brother, whom he talked about almost always. They used to go along with their father to chop wood, they would chase each other and find sticks to play with. Sam yearned for those times. His present, warped and daft as it was, he seemed to be enjoying it as much as he had enjoyed his past.
Sam was awoke by the sound of his door hinges creaking closed. His back turned toward the window, he listened to footsteps approach, then felt his bed dip. Cold feet brushed up against his own, a chilled hand touched his bare shoulder and turned him on his back. Nothing could be seen in the dark. "Cas?"
"Shh," the older boy hushed him. He ran his hands over Sam's bare flesh. The younger boy moaned when their lips met, their tongues slowly began moving in unison. Sam reached up and cupped Castiel's face, urging him closer. Castiel's mouth moved down Sam's neck, biting and licking at his skin, eliciting a moan from Sam. He moved lower, tongue flickering out, tasting the sweat that began forming on Sam's chest. Sam was a mess of hushed moans and muffled grunts as Castiel moved even lower. He gripped his pillow, pinned his eyes shut and allowed immense pleasure to overtake him for the very first time.
"Is it strange that I find these woods, sort of, calm? Even though someone can kill us at any moment?" Castiel said from behind him on their third day of running. It would soon rain and they would have to find shelter but Sam was enjoying the ominous smog that drifted atop the trees. He reached his hand back and Castiel took it, coming up to walk beside him. "What exactly do you think we'll find out here?"
"Someone to help us, maybe. If not, we'll just keep going until we find somewhere safe."
"And if they find us?"
"They wont find us." They found a steady stream, Sam stooped down to fill an old canteen.
"How do you know that?" Castiel stood opposite him, hands placed on his hips.
"Would it kill you to be optimistic for once in your life?" Sam smiled and wiped the sweat from his brow. The rain started falling, they found a large boulder to rest under, it shielded them from the rain and provided quite a bit of security.
"Let's look back at my life shall we? I get thrown into a labor camp for looking at a guard the wrong way, after five years I escape said labor camp with a giant Scotsman, now I'm surviving on bread and water in the woods. It's kind of difficult to be optimistic considering the way things have gone."
"At least you found me again," Sam said, handing him a piece of bread.
"I guess that can restore an ounce of my optimism." Castiel smiled. There was a long silence as the rain poured down, the river flowing just at their feet started to pick up.
"You know, when I saw you again, when I arrived at the camp," Sam said. "I thought I died." He picked up a few pebbles and tossed them into the water. "I figured that I had to be in some post-mortem realm because...it couldn't have been you." He turned his face toward Castiel. "The world, or fate, brought us back together in such a bizarre way. I often find myself thinking that it cant be true, that I'll blink and you'll be gone.
"But I'm right here." Castiel took hold of Sam's hands.
"And you won't leave?"
"I'll never leave."
"I don't know if we'll be alive tomorrow or if we'll be torn apart once more, but I do know that I love you. I am thankful for everything that has happened to me and if I die, tomorrow or years from now, I won't be angry, because of the time I have had with you, my love."
Castiel stood at Sam's doorstep, eyes red, his father waiting behind him. "I-" he started. "I've come to say goodbye."
"Where are you going?"
"My father," Castiel glanced behind him. "He knows...about us. We're moving back to Russia to live with my cousins. I don't want to." Cas bit his lip, fighting his tears. Sam pulled Castiel into his chest. "Please don't let me go." He clutched Sam's shoulders. "Please."
"Come on, boy," his father pried him away from Sam's grasp.
"Distance will not keep us apart. I will find you, my love. We will see each other again," Sam called toward him. After a while he ran down the stairs of his house, and continued on the dirt road until he saw Cas' figure. When he got within reach he turned him around and kissed him. "Love of my life, I promise you, we will find each other."
The woods were quiet save for the sound of loud footsteps, which awoke Castiel from sleep. His eyes startled open, panic present in them, he shook Sam. "There's someone coming. Sam, get up, we have to go. We have to run." Castiel hauled the other man up and began running. They soon heard yells from behind them, bullets began rippling past them. They ducked as the bullets missed them and hit the tree trunks.
"Aim you idiots!" Just like that Castiel heard a thud from behind him. When he turned, Sam lay on the forest floor, clutching his leg.
"Keep going," he said, looking up at Cas. For moment, they shared a look of terror. Castiel gently shaking his head and Sam studying him as if it would be the last time he would ever lay eyes upon him again. The pain coursed through him, and he realized then, that he did fear death. All his fear dissipated the night he watched Castiel walk away from him. Fear became something he didn't register, not even when he was arrested, but now, it made his eyes tear and his heart raise in his throat. "Go, you stupid man!" He didn't care if he, himself, died, but he couldn't bare seeing Castiel sacrifice himself for his sake. They were quite a ways in front of the other men and Castiel decided then to drag Sam under a large boulder adjacent to where he had fallen. Sam clutched at Castiel's shoulders, urging him away, pleading with his eyes to leave him. Sam wanted so badly for Castiel to save himself. They heard the group of men run past, not once stopping to check in the most obvious of places. Cas wrapped Sam's wound as their panic ceased and their heaving chests steadied.
Over the next couple of days they only walked a few miles. Sam growing weaker by the hour. "Just leave me." He would say each day. His feet began dragging and his head hung low, Castiel knew he couldn't carry him much longer. He could see a clearing up ahead where they could hopefully stop and sleep, but Sam went limp against him. Castiel set him down and collapsed next to him. "Why won't you leave me?"
"I'll never leave you."
"Why?" Sam said weakly.
"I'd rather die with you rather than without you. Living without you would be death in itself. You promised me, all those years ago, that we would find each other. Now that we have, why would I leave again? Not even god could pry me away from you now." Sam was quiet as they got up again. It felt as if Castiel was carrying two men rather than one. Sam's feet barely lifted from the ground, they merely dragged against the dirt. They finally broke free from the tree line, and Sam lifted his head. Before them was a man standing on the porch of a small cabin, looking at them with the same expression of disbelief. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and Sam passed out onto the ground.
The man ran over, helped Castiel haul Sam up and carry him into the small cabin. The man led him to his bedroom, where they gently laid Sam down. "Bullet wound?"
"Yes, sir." Castiel backed against the wall and watched as the man moved about the room, attending to Sam's leg.
"Bad infection," the man muttered. He gave Sam some medicine and stood up. "He should be fine until I can get into town tomorrow morning. I'm Sebastian. Sebastian Elliot." He wiped his hands on his slacks and reached one out toward Castiel.
"You look hungry, come on, I'll fix you up something." Sebastian led him to the kitchen, he began preparing dinner for them both. "Where you two boys coming from?"
"It's quite a long story." Castiel's foot tapped under the table and he bit at the edges of his nails. They ate in still silence, Castiel's anxiety never ceasing. He did his best to ignore the glances Sebastian shot at him. "There's a small guest room in the back you can have."
"I think I'll stay with Sam for a while. I can't thank you enough for doing this." Sebastian nodded as Castiel walked back into the bedroom. Fever had broke out on Sam's forehead, his skin was as hot as coal, Cas ran his fingers soothingly over the skin of his arm. He sat like that well into the night, never noticing that the sun had set.
"Cas?" Sam shook him awake gently. The labor camp was eerily quiet, not a dog barked outside, there weren't even snores escaping the mouths of other prisoners. Castiel moaned gently, turning on his side to look at Sam through the haze of sleepiness. "Do you think-" Sam sighed. "Do you think those feelings could ever come back? You think we'll ever feel the same way again?" Castiel didn't say anything, he blinked, trying to make out Sam's figure in the dark. His voice was delicate, he breathed out his words, stifling the sob that wanted to escape his chest. "I think I feel them again. Actually, I don't think I ever stopped feeling that way, I think they were just replaced with the feeling of loss, and longing. The years I spent apart from you were most agonizing, I couldn't stop thinking of the times we've had. I feel as if my heart is whole again, even under these circumstances." Sam wiped his face, he turned his back, certain that his words didn't mean anything anymore to Castiel. He felt an arm reach around him and felt Castiel's hand cradle his own.
"I never stopped loving you."
"You are the two men that escaped." Sebastian stood at the doorway, watching Cas' tears fall. "I knew the minute you walked out of the woods." He sat down on a wooden chair next to the bed. He studied the way Castiel looked at Sam, he knew that look. Knew it all too well. He, too, had looked at someone the same way once. It seemed like decades ago. "You love him, don't you?" Cas looked down. "A few years ago, they took someone from me. His name was James, he was the most brilliant man I ever knew. When I saw you coming through the woods it reminded me of the last time I saw him. You two are so similar, dark circles, worn and frail." Sebastian stood up, wiping his face, he made his way out of the room.
"Will he die?" Castiel asked, referencing to Sam.
"No," he said, stopping. "I won't let him. I loved James as much as you love Sam, I will not allow you to experience what I have gone through." Castiel slept through the night and the entire day that followed. He awoke the next morning to Sam's laugh, which he hasn't heard in years. He and Sebastian were enjoying a spot of tea when Castiel walked into the room, yawning. The normalcy spread warmth through Castiel's stomach.
There was a knock at the door the winter after Sam fully recovered. They still stayed with Sebastian, he never asked them to leave, and they never really wanted to. There was always a sense of panic when an unexpected visitor approached the cabin but it was usually nothing to worry about. Castiel didn't speak of the odd feeling he had in his chest the whole day, like something terrible would soon go wrong, he simply ignored it.
"Mr. Elliot, please open the door."
"Just a moment!" Sebastian came into the guest room, Sam closed the novel he had been reading and stood up. "You have to go, now. I will never forgive myself if they find you. Keep going east, the city's border isn't far, go as far as you can. There's a port where they ship out certain supplies to France, I can get us on there. Go, now."
"When we get there, I think I'll become a doctor. You can start painting again, and we'll just live. We can make up for all those years we spent apart, how does that sound?" Sam said, holding Castiel close to him as they laid on the floor of the ship, hidden amongst the many boxes.
It was calm when they both left the world, they breathed their final breath together. "This isn't a bad way to go," Castiel had said. The windows were open in their large bedroom, a steady breeze blew in, making the curtains dance slightly. They laid next to each other, hands clasped together, and watched the sun slowly set. When darkness obscured their vision, they both closed their eyes. Castiel thought of every moment he had spent with Sam, every agonizing moment they spent apart, and every moment that made up for their lost time. It was a calm way to leave the earth, it was the only way he ever wanted to, with the only person he ever loved. With one final breath Castiel spoke the last words he would ever say, and the last words Sam would ever hear:
"Thank you for loving me, Sam Winchester."