I know, I just keep writing. I try to stop, but when I do, the words eat me.
Dean noticed almost immediately that the brand was missing from his arm. He was peeling off blood and sweat stained clothes, and there it is. No handprint.
He put his hand over the spot where is used to be.
He had been holding out hope that Cas had some way, somehow, survived. But the handprint was gone and it had never disappeared before, not when Cas had fake died. But now it was completely gone. Gone, with no sign that there had ever been anything there.
Maybe Cas really was dead this time.
"I really think you should call for him," Sam said, more than a few times. At first, Dean argued, that he was still mad at him, and the angel could come back on his own. He told Sam to call for him, if he cared so damned much, but he sure as hell wasn't gonna do it.
It was pointless, Dean though, to call for an angel he knew was dead.
The truth was, he shouted at the heavens til he was blue in the face. He did so almost every night for a month, so long as he was sure Sammy wasn't around to hear, before he finally gave up. And every now and then after, he would call, hoping that somehow this time would be different.
It never was.
It was a while before Sammy noticed the brand was gone. Maybe he just hasn't been paying attention, or maybe Dean had kinda been trying to hide it.
Sam thought it was weird, and then he called Bobby to get a second opinion. Bobby headed straight for the books, despite Dean's protests to not waste his time.
Crowley noticed faster than even Dean had.
Dean was still pissed at him, and would probably be eternally pissed at him, for getting Cas into this mess in the first place, but before he could voice as much, Crowley was giving him a truly bizarre look and Dean couldn't help but feel a little violated.
"You're all wrong," the demon said, still looking at him strangely.
"Excuse me?" Dean questioned.
"Your soul," the King of Hell said. "It's all wrong."
"What are you talking about?" Sam asked.
"When we first met, you had a brand on your soul. A little piece of an Angel's Grace. I guess that means he's really dead, then."
Crowley sounded almost disappointed.
He disappeared before the Winchesters could do him any harm.
Sam called Bobby to relay the information they'd gathered from the demon. Dean wanted to rip the phone from his hand and throw it out the window as they drove down the highway, but he refrained, and instead sat, fuming, behind the wheel.
It took a little while for Dean to notice when the brand returned.
The brothers were crowded around a table of books, with which Dean was getting quite frustrated.
"What's wrong with your shoulder?" Sam asked.
"What?" Dean asked, still absently massaging his left shoulder.
"Your shoulder," Sam repeated. "You've been messing with it for going on half an hour."
Dean looked down at his arm and frowned. He hadn't even realized he'd been doing it. He rolled back his sleeve, revealing the brand, as if it had been there all along.
In an instant, Sam reached for his phone to call Bobby, while Dean jumped up and went outside.
"Cas!" she shouted for the first time in over a month. "Cas get your feathery ass down here! I know you can hear me. Cas! Cas, please," he begged, his voice betraying his every attempt to not sound as needy as he felt.
"Hello, Dean," a voice said from behind him. Dean turned to face the angel, grinning like he hasn't grinned in months.
"Cas," he said, pulling him into a tight hug. For a moment, Cas just stood there, awkwardly as always, before wrapping his arms around Dean.
"It's good to see you, Cas," Dean said, still not letting go.
"It is good to see you too, Dean."