Castiel watched as another small group exited the Gate, returning home. He had a smile on his face when the few children that had been brought over made it through. But there were still countless other people waiting to go through the Gate, and only so many could go through at a time.
Castiel waited his turn patiently. They had agreed to send the children first, then the people who had been missing the longest.
"Castiel!" a gruff voice reached his ears. He turned, spotting the old Hunter. The man clapped him on the back before drawing him into a one-armed hug.
"Bobby, thank you so much. What you did with those Hunters… That was amazing," Castiel smiled, pulling away.
"I have a few tricks up my sleeve," he said with a shrug, but he had a slight smile on his lips. "You're a good kid," Bobby nodded, shaking the younger man's hand. And coming from the grouchy, old Hunter that was a huge compliment. Castiel smiled, returning the gesture.
Balthazar approached quietly, "Thank you, Bobby," he told the man. They shared a look before Bobby inclined his head and left the two alone to talk. "Castiel."
"I tried to say goodbye, but I suppose being the new King requires a lot of work," Castiel told the blond.
Balthazar nodded with a grin, "What with trying to clean up my father's mess and all." He laughed before he continued in a more serious tone, "I owe you my life, my kingdom, everything," Balthazar said, looking down at the Angel. He held out a small, gold box, opening it. "I tried to give this to you before, but you didn't know what it meant. This time I ask you to wear it as my husband."
Castiel smiled as he looked into Balthazar's soft, blue eyes. "No, Balthazar. I've changed. I'm not the same guy you knew. I want something else."
Balthazar nodded, smiling brightly despite the rejection. "It wouldn't have to do with a certain crass, green-eyed man, would it?" He teased.
The Angel's face heated, but he nodded. He pulled the man into a hug, "Goodbye, Balthazar."
Dean stood several paces away. He watched as Castiel hugged the new King, smile faltering. Of course Castiel would still want to be with Balthazar. After all, he was the reason that had driven the Angel from the beginning. He turned to leave, but the Angel's voice rang out, "Dean!"
Castiel approached him, smiling and Dean couldn't help returning the smile, though he certainly didn't feel happy. "Cas, hey. Thought I might've missed you."
"It was pretty close," Castiel nodded, eyes searching the taller man's face.
People bustled about them as they stared and Dean began to feel uncomfortable. Why did he have to go and care for the Angel? Him and his big, blue eyes, his determination and loyalty, and... Dean said quickly, "Anyways, I wanted to say goodbye."
Castiel tilted his head, "Goodbye?"
"And if you, you know, ever want to come back…"
Castiel blinked, but when Dean didn't continue, he asked hesitantly, "You want me to stay?"
"Hell no, you should go home," Dean spoke, a little too fast.
Castiel's smile fell a bit. "Yes. I, I've had enough of Purgatory for a lifetime," Castiel responded, trying to remain smiling. He had thought there was something between them, but the way Dean was talking, Castiel wasn't so sure anymore.
"Yeah, I bet you have, right?" Dean laughed. "Still, we had some good times. Obviously among all the bad times."
"We did," he answered with a laugh of his own and Dean felt his heart clench at the sound. God, he was whipped. "You know, you could always visit my world? You might like it," Castiel said hopefully.
Dean smiled a real smile then, "Yeah, we could do burgers. And other things." God, he used to be such a smooth talker. And now he was reduced to this? If his little brother were here, he would have a field day with the way Dean was acting.
"Castiel," the gatekeeper interrupted. "Are you ready?" Without waiting for a response, he pulled Castiel away and towards to the Gate. "Now, just force yourself to breath." And with that, he pushed Castiel through the Gate.
That falling sensation hit him and then darkness consumed him.
It felt like a lifetime later when he finally came to, to the sound of a steady beeping. He could vaguely hear people talking but they sounded miles away. His body felt stiff and sore, and it took a few moments to open his eyes. "Cas?" Came his brother's voice from his right. The tiny bed dipped and Castiel looked at Gabriel.
And he remembered their father's death then, staring into his brother's amber eyes."He's gone," he said softly.
Gabriel frowned, "Who?"
"Dad," Castiel's voice croaked both from distress and a dry mouth.
"It's okay, shh…" Gabriel patted his little brother's hand comfortingly. He brought a glass of water and Castiel took it gratefully.
When he felt he could talk again, though his voice was still a bit throaty, he asked, "How long was I there?" He rubbed his eyes and blinked away the sleepiness.
"About an hour," Gabriel answered. "You were lucky. A construction worker saw you run into the building."
"I brought coffee," Sam's voice broke in and Castiel spotted the giant man sitting in a chair at his right. "Don't worry, home-brewed," he motioned to the thermos and stack of foam cups, likely taken from the cafeteria.
Castiel smiled and leaned back in the bed, "Smells delicious." He breathed in the scent and felt himself waking up little by little. He wanted to go home but the hospital wouldn't allow him to leave yet, wanting to monitor his vitals.
It was morning before Castiel was allowed to leave and return home. When he walked inside the shared apartment, he expected to feel relief but it never came. Instead, he felt empty. Something was missing.
He missed Dean.
He sauntered into his bedroom and fell back, staring at the ceiling.
Gabriel left him be, after hearing his little brother's story. It was farfetched, but he let it go for now. Castiel was confused, had been concussed. It was more likely everything had been a crazy ass dream. With that thought, he nodded to himself before biting into a Snickers bar.
That night, Castiel couldn't sleep, feeling strangely restless. He wondered if he had imagined everything in Purgatory. After all, he had only been missing for about an hour. If that was the case, was Dean and everything that had happened just a dream? The thought continued to plague him and he was starting to feel frustrated.
He climbed out of his bed, deciding to get a glass of water, hoping the walk would clear his head. He passed by Gabriel's door and froze, hearing his brother and Sam talking. Normally, this wouldn't faze him; Sam often spent the night. But he could have sworn he heard the word "Purgatory" in there.
"It's all real, Gabe," Sam was saying. Castiel shifted closer to the door, quietly, and pressed his ear against the wood. "Everything he told you, it's real."
"Puh-lease," he heard his brother say. "He just had some crazy dream."
He could hear Sam sigh, "I have something to tell you, Gabe. I'm not really from a small town in Kansas. I'm from Purgatory."
Castiel froze and backed away, staring in shock at the door. He wasn't crazy, after all. It was real. He numbly walked back to his bedroom and he collapsed on the bed, tears streaming down his face.
Dean was real. And Castiel probably would never see him again.
"Rise and shine, sleepy head!" Gabriel's voice called out what felt like only minutes later. But when Castiel blinked his eyes open, the sun streamed through his bedroom window brightly. Castiel mumbled and rolled over, pulling the cover over his head. "Not so fast, kiddo! Get dressed, we're going out for breakfast! Well, I think it's lunchtime at this point…" Gabriel conceded thoughtfully before leaving Castiel to get dressed.
Castiel sat up, then. He had overslept that late? He dressed quickly in a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and a pair of tennis shoes before hitting the restroom.
It wasn't unusual for the brothers and Sam to eat out every now and then. Gabriel especially, who had tried every dessert at their favorite restaurants. It was lunchtime when they pulled in to the parking lot and it was packed. "I'll grab a table," Castiel said, climbing out of the car. But it was Sunday, and many of the patrons had likely just left church.
"I called ahead, it's under 'Winchester'," Sam said out the window of his car, before pulling away to find a spot to park.
Castiel headed inside and made his way to the hostess. There were several people still waiting to be seated, but Sam had said there was a reserved table for them. It was strange, because usually they just waited. Then again, they also usually arrived earlier to beat the crowd. But he cleared his throat as he asked the hostess, "I have a table reserved, under Winchester?"
The tiny woman smiled brightly, "Yes, it's all ready for you, just follow me." He followed her around the tables, trying not to bump into anyone. When she stopped at a table near the back, Castiel froze.
The table itself was a two-seater, but what had Castiel's heart missing a beat was the man sitting with his back to him. He moved slowly to the other side of the table, heart wrenching in anticipation. Green eyes met blue and Castiel gasped, "Dean?"
Someone cleared their throat and he realized he was standing in the way of a waiter. Hurriedly, Castiel sat down across from Dean, who let out a chuckle. "You act like you've seen a ghost."
"How, I mean, what—"
"Our brothers set this up," Dean commented with a smirk.
Castiel blinked once, twice, then his eyes widened. "You're saying that my best friend Sam, is your little brother Sam?"
Before more words could be exchanged, the waitress greeted them and took their orders. "This world isn't so bad," Dean commented, looking around the restaurant. Castiel followed his gaze. Everyone seemed cheerful and happy, eyes focused instead of the dazed look that had been in many of the people of Purgatory.
"How long are you staying?" Castiel hoped he would stay awhile, more than just a couple hours for lunch. If he were honest, he wanted the other man to stay permanently. But Purgatory was the man's home and Castiel couldn't (and wouldn't) ask Dean to stay. He wasn't that selfish.
Dean pretended to look hurt, "You want me gone that quick?"
Castiel looked guilty, "No, of course not!" he said quickly. "I just meant, I…"
Dean smiled as he watched the Angel look down, embarrassed and cheeks flushed. Their food arrived then and they ate in silence. "Dude," Dean moaned after taking a bite of burger, "the food here is amazing!"
Castiel laughed, forgetting his embarrassment. "Wait until you try the pie," he said with a shy smile.
The pie, it turned out, was in Dean's opinion, the best creation in both worlds. Well, second best, he corrected his thoughts as he led Castiel from the restaurant. "I plan on staying. Permanently, I mean." He informed as they walked down the sidewalk.
Blue eyes turned to gaze at Dean curiously, "Why is that?"
"I like it here," came the response. "I figure I'll stay with Sammy until I get my own place."
Castiel couldn't hold back the smile. He wanted to offer Dean his place to stay, but knew that wouldn't be fair to Gabriel so he remained quiet. Besides, Sam was almost always at their place, so maybe Dean would tag along. He could only hope.
They stopped in a park, sitting down on a bench. Occasional joggers flew by, but the bench they sat on was in a remote area of the park.
"You're awfully quiet, Cas," Dean commented as he watched a squirrel run up a tree.
"Oh, um…" Castiel fidgeted with the hem of his shirt. "There's something I've been meaning to tell you."
Dean sighed, "Look, I get it. You don't want me around."
"No," Castiel interjected, reaching for Dean's hand on impulse and the taller man whipped around, staring at their hands. But the Angel held tightly, "That's the thing, I do want you here. I just wasn't sure how you would react to me confessing that I, I mean…" his voice trailed off and released Dean's hand, face turning red.
Dean scooted closer, "What, Cas?"
Castiel caught his gaze steadily, "I think I love you, Dean," he spoke softly, hesitant, but held the other man's eyes.
Another jogger ran past, but neither man moved away. "You know, I miss that tie," Dean remarked and Castiel frowned, tilting his head in confusion. "It's a lot easier to do this," he smiled as he pulled the Angel close by his shirt collar, claiming his lips.
Castiel gasped into the kiss before his eyes slid shut. He brought a hand to the back of Dean's neck, tugging him closer. The kiss became forceful then, as they battled for dominance. Out of breath, Dean pulled back only just enough to breathe. "I've wanted to do this since I met you," Dean whispered against his lips and Castiel nodded, unable to speak.
He finally found the breath to speak, "We should go back to my place."
Dean smiled, "Is that a come on?"
Castiel nodded, eyes shining brightly, "I think it was."
AN: The end! Thanks so much for sticking with me! And as always, comments, questions and concerns are most welcome!