Rain poured down, drenching his hair and clothes. The beer bottle in his hand felt cold against his skin. He stood aimlessly staring at the small hand-made wooden cross planted into the ground infront of him. The thought that there was no body in the plot made his heart feel heavy. He took another swig out of the bottle and crouched down to run his wet fingers gently over the visibly old cross. Although there was no name inscribed onto the cross, Dean knew exactly who it was there for.
"It's been five years." He gulped down tears which were slowly forming in his eyes. "I'm so sorry, Sammy. I was supposed to keep you safe, but I fucked it up."
The tears finally began to flow down his cheeks, mixing with raindrops that clung loosely to his skin. It had been five years. People kept telling him that 'time heals all wounds'. They didn't know shit. Time doesn't heal... it doesn't even make it any easier to deal with. The fact was, time would never let Dean forget the day his little brother fell into hell with Lucifer trapped inside his mind. The memory of that day was seared into his brain forever, always clawing through whenever he felt particularly bad about himself. Though he never let it show. The way he looked at it, he didn't deserve anyone's pity, nor did he want it. I was a piss-poor brother and an even worse person in general, he'd tell himself over and over again. So, all this time, he'd never allowed his emotional torment to show on the surface.
After sitting in silence listening to the rain drip onto the ground around him for a few minutes, he rose up, took one last look at the cross and turned to walk back to his old rusty jeep. He never looked back, not once.
The squeal of his alarm clock shocked his body out of sleep. It was set to be just another normal weekday for Dean Winchester. His feet hit the ground and he made his way to the bathroom for his usual morning routine.
With his teeth brushed and his face freshly shaven, he headed to work. From nine to five he worked to repair old cars for low-paying customers at 'Kenny's Garage', it wasn't much, but it was as close to normal as he could get.
Everyday when he got home, the love of his life was always waiting paitiently, leash hanging from her mouth. 'Angel' was a four-year-old golden retriever which Dean had rescued from certain death in a frozen river in the winter of 2011. Ever since, Dean had referred to her as his best friend. Every night without fail, rain or shine, Dean and Angel would take a short walk through Tranquility park. This was where his 'normal' weekday turned his whole world upside down.
The sound of his own footsteps was somewhat calming. With the sun beating down warmly on his back and the birds chirping merrily as they flew high above him, it was the perfect summer's evening. The only thing bothering him was the horrible itchiness of his left shoulder. The hand-shaped burn hadn't bothered him in years. Infact, he hadn't looked at it in years. As he rubbed at it irritably all the memories associated with it came flooding back. He paused to take a deep breath as he tried to stop the flashbacks. When he finally pulled himself together he realized that his dog was now galloping almost half a mile in front of him right towards an oblivious stranger.
"Angel!" he cried, jogging to catch up with the wayward dog. "Angel, get back here!"
Before he could do anything, Angel had leapt on top of the stranger. The man toppled back and his head slammed against the ground. When Dean finally caught up, Angel was already spreading her enormous, sloppy tongue all over the man's face.
Dean grabbed her gently by the collar and off of the man. When she eventually ran off after a stray tennis ball, he turned his attention to the man who was now vertical again and wiping slobbers off of his face with the back of his hand.
"Sorry about that." Dean chuckled before his face dropped as he gazed at the stranger stood in front of him, "Don't I know you?"
The man stood frozen, staring right at Dean. After a while, Dean raised his hand and yanked off his sunglasses. His green eyes squinted in order to scan the man. Dean recognised him. This man was no stranger. Right then, his shoulder began to burn so scorchingly hot that he dropped his sunglasses and clutched his shoulder automatically.
"A-are you alright?" the man stuttered.
Suddenly, it all became clear to him. Memories came crashing back into his brain as if a dam had just broken. The sound of the man's voice. He'd heard it many, many times before. His chest ached and his heart began to race when it finally clicked. It was Castiel. A face he never thought he'd ever see again. At first he thought he was dreaming, but it all felt too real. The wave of anger, relief and slight joy that overcame him caused him to shudder. This was way too much.
He stumbled over to the closest bench still clutching his shoulder. He winced and hissed in pain as he settled himself into the bench. Then he looked up at Castiel. Tears blurred his vision though he forced them down. The man then began to walk away slowly. Dean watched in horror as Cas walked out of his life again. Then, suddenly, he spun around and stared wide-eyed at him.
"Dean?" His voice sounded uncertain and anxious.
"Castiel," Dean whispered breathlessly, not quite believing the situation.
He watched silently as Castiel's eyes flooded with tears. Castiel looked a lot older than the last time Dean had seen him. He had large dark shadows underneath both eyes and much more stubble than usual. His pink lips were dry and chapped and his hair was messy. But these things were insignificant, the first thing Dean noticed was different about his old friend was that his trademark trenchcoat was no longer hanging from his shoulders. Now, Castiel was wearing a dark blue kangaroo hoodie with black tracksuit bottoms and scruffy Nike trainers. With all that was different, there was one thing Dean noticed had stayed the same. The look in Cas' eyes. Dean had to bite his lip to stop a huge grin spreading across his face. He had always been a little too fond of the Angel's deep blue eyes. Truth be told, he had got lost in them one too many times in the past.
"I can't believ-" Cas began before his voice cracked and his face was suddenly pelted with holy water from Dean's flask. As if he had been expecting this, he spat the water out casually and continued, "It's been five years."
Dean slipped his flask back into his inner pocket and sat staring at the gravel beneath his feet. He began to recall how hard it was to adjust to life without him. Without Sam. Eventually, he sighed and rose from the bench. After whistling for Angel and picking up his sunglasses, he turned to walk away. I am not gonna let him do this to me, not again. He's already walked out of my life once, he's not getting the chance to do it again.
"Wait, don't just walk away!" Castiel yelled desperately.
This outburst stopped Dean in his tracks. What the fuck? Is he serious? He swung around and shot Cas a furious look. "You did it first, Castiel. You were the one that walked...flew away when I needed you the most!"
Dean's whole body started to tremble as the memories began to sting like a fresh wound being disinfected in his brain. Castiel averted his gaze to his feet, feeling the familiar pang he recognised as guilt in his chest.
"I'm sorry, Dean."
"That just doesn't cut it, man." He sighed, clearly frustrated "You can't just walk right back into my life and expect me to greet you with open arms!"
"This is as unexpected for me as it is for you. That being said, I believe we need to talk."
With Castiel clearly not getting his point, Dean walked briskly towards him. When they were literally toe-to-toe he stopped. Cas stood frozen in the spot breathing in Dean's coffee scented breath as it swept across his face.
"Look," he scowled as he stared angrily into Castiel's visibly tired eyes, "I do not need you anymore! So just turn around and go back to wherever you came from and make sure we never see eachother again!"
Castiel's eyes widened as Dean took a few steps back, never taking his eyes off him. There was silence for a few seconds before Dean sighed frustratedly and turned to walk away again.
"I'm losing my powers, Dean," Cas pleaded. "I need your help."
Dean placed his hands on his hips and turned around slowly. He couldn't decide what to do. The way he looked at it, he had two choices. Either hear an old friend out or walk away and never look back. What would he do for me? he asked himself as he looked into Castiel's desperate eyes. Eventually he relaxed his stance and took a deep breath.
"Ten minutes, Cas..tiel."
Shit, he is not getting a nickname from me again, he thought. He had to earn that last time and then he went and left me when I was vulnerable. It's Castiel from now on. Not that he'll be staying for long. With that, Castiel shot him a grateful but slightly awkward smile.
The run-down cafe in which Dean chose to meet Castiel later that evening reflected their relationship at the time perfectly. From the outside it looked like a quiet diner built in the '80s. The retro sign blinking in a neon blue colour informed Cas that he was entering the 'Good 'Ole Days Cafe'. As Dean pushed the door open the hinges squealed. Cas managed to slip in whilst Dean held the door, aimlessly staring up at the bright menu above the counter. The door swung shut behind them with a bang that made Cas jump a little. Dean didn't seem fazed, which led Cas to believe he'd visited here before. The cafe itself had a strong stench of deep fried fish and chips with a faint whiff of ketchup. Castiel looked around him whilst Dean continued to eye the menu. The pale green paint was beginning to crack and peel off of the walls. Dotted around these walls were boring paintings by unknown artists. Scattered around the cafe were young waitresses in tiny red and white mini-skirts. Many of them had their long hair tied up in buns or ponytails. As they jotted orders down in their notepads and brought lingering customers their food, Castiel wondered how many of them actually wanted to be here. Probably very few, he thought silently feeling a deep sense of pity in his chest for them.
"Are you just gonna stand there all day like an idiot?" Dean piped up as he slumped down into a nearby chair.
Castiel scurried over and slipped onto a wooden chair opposite Dean. The chair looked and felt very unstable. As for the table, it wasn't much better. Regardless of the state of the restaurant, Castiel was genuinely relieved that Dean had agreed to speak with him, even if he wasn't in the best of moods.
"What can ah getcha, guys?" a waitress with a strong Texas accent asked enthusiastically.
It took Castiel a while to realize that the woman was keeping her attention entirely on him. For the amount of time she spent at their table, she never once took her eyes off him. This made him feel uncomfortable. The last time a woman looked at him like that things got complicated.
"Cheeseburger, extra onions... Some fries too," Dean replied with a polite smile on his face.
"Anythin' for you, handsome?" she asked, winking at him.
"Uh, no, thank you."
After the waitress had skipped off to place the order, Dean relaxed back into his seat and began to stare out of the window behind Cas. He had that look on his face. A look Cas was all too familiar with. The look that screamed 'don't talk to me, I'm angry with you'. Castiel sighed, he knew Dean was stubborn and he knew that their reunion would wreak of awkwardness. But, that wouldn't stop him from trying. Dean had a hard shell, Castiel was aware of this and he was one-hundred percent determined on breaking it and being the friend he should've been five years ago.
"So, your powers. What's wrong with them?"
"I-I'm not quite sure. I think it may have something to do with the lack of other angels on Earth right now." His voice trembled slightly as he thought of his many brothers and sisters who had died because of him. "I think my line of contact with Heaven is slowly closing."
"What do you want me to do about it?... And how the hell did you know where to find me?" he snapped, eyebrows furrowed as he leaned across the tiny table separating them.
"I wasn't looking for you, Dean. I believe God helped me find you."
Dean smirked and rolled his eyes, "What makes you think that?"
"I was leaving Texas, in a taxi. The taxi ran out of gas. This was the only town for miles. There are no taxis in this town and the next bus was tomorrow at noon. So, I decided to walk in the park and figure out a plan. That's when your dog attacked me."
"Angel did not attack you!" Dean interrupted.
Cas smiled, not just at Dean's defensiveness over his dog, but his dog's name. Angel. It made him feel warm inside. "That's how I found you, God knew I needed help and he guided me to it."
Dean stared into Castiel's eyes for a long minute, probably trying to figure out whether Cas was being serious or not.
"It was a coincidence, Castiel."
Cas leant over the table. "There is no such thing and you know it." Castiel grew silent, gazing intently into Dean's eyes waiting for a witty comeback. There was none.
Castiel was not yet fully familiar with all the new emotions and feelings he was encountering, but when Dean looked into his eyes there was something different. His heart felt as though it may actually crash through his ribcage at any minute. He was surprised that Dean didn't hear it hammering against his chest. There was something about those beautiful green eyes that made Cas want to jump out of his chair and pull Dean as close to him as possible. He felt the urge to spill his thoughts out. The urge to ask Dean what these feelings meant. It's not that he wanted them to stop, it's that he wanted to understand them.
Finally, the chirpy waitress reappeared holding a plateful of chips and a large burger on the side. "Here ya go!"
After she set the plate down she waved a small piece of paper in front of Cas and gave it a kiss, her bright red lipstick clinging to the side of the paper. She then slid it towards Castiel and winked seductively before walking off with a grin on her face. Castiel looked at the paper with a number scribbled on it. Dean watched him for a second before digging into his cheeseburger. Eventually Castiel ignored the paper and looked up at Dean.
"Coincidence, God, I don't really care. I just don't see how I can help you get your powers back," he said. The food in his mouth muffled his speech slightly.
"I didn't say I wanted my powers back."
Dean stopped eating, clearly confused. "Why not?"
"Being human has its... benefits."
Dean smirked. "What 'benefits'?"
"Freedom, stronger emotions, th-"
"And shit-loads of pain," Dean interrupted, flinging a chip into his mouth.
Castiel's eyebrows furrowed and his head tilted slightly. "Isn't the pain worth it? To know that you have the emotional capability to love someone?"
Dean swallowed his last chip and his eyes began to sting with tears. "In my experience, the people you love the most always leave. Whether they die or just walk away. So, excuse me if I fail to see how pain is worth it."
After this, Dean rubbed his hands on his jacket and stood up. Castiel sat still for a few moments trying to figure out what Dean meant. Who walked away, Dean? Were you meaning me? When he composed himself, he realised Dean had moved to the counter and was talking to a brown-haired woman. He decided to stick with Dean for a while. After all, he was glad he had found him again, he wasn't going to pass this opportunity up that fast.
"I'm gonna cook you something special tonight," she said flirtatiously.
"Sounds good to me." Dean wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer making Castiel's stomach churn.
"And then... We'll have an early night," she whispered into his ear.
Dean chuckled. "Oh, really?"
As Castiel watched the two of them flirt and touch eachother he suddenly felt a prickle of strange emotion. Must they do that in public? His fists clenched on their own and he tried to restrain himself from charging towards them and breaking them apart. His eyes constantly tried to look anywhere but at the couple who were now pecking at eachother's mouths. This made Cas feel physically sick. He couldn't understand why he was feeling so strongly about this. Suddenly he was shook out of his thoughts.
"Who's your buddy, babe?" She smiled politely in Castiel's direction.
'Babe'? His name is 'Dean'.
"He's just an old friend, his name's Castiel," Dean replied absentmindedly, never taking his gaze off the woman.
"Oh, interesting name. I'm Maria."
"Nice to meet you," he choked as the words almost got stuck in his throat.
Maria turned her attention back to Dean. "So, I'mma get off home now."
"I'll catch up with you in a sec."
Maria turned to walk away and then began to giggle. She then ran back to Dean and gave him a passionate kiss before smiling at Cas again and skipping out of the cafe. Dean then turned to face Cas.
"So, is she-"
"My fiancée? Yeah," Dean interrupted, smiling distantly.
"Congratulations." His throat felt dry and his voice sounded hoarse. He expected 'friend', 'girlfriend' even. Not 'fiancée'.
"Thanks... So, why did you ask for my help if you don't want your angel juice back?"
"I just need someone familiar. I need you to help me understand. I need you to help me be more human," he replied in a low, quiet voice.
Dean stared at him for a second with a slightly amused expression on his face. "I dunno, Castiel."
Castiel then invaded Dean's personal space and placed both of his hands on his shoulders. "Please, Dean. I need you." 'And you need me too' almost spilled out of his mouth but he was trying not to push his luck.
Dean wriggled out of Castiel's grip and stepped back clearing his throat, looking slightly uncomfortable. A sigh escaped his mouth and he answered Cas with a nod of his head. "Okay, I'll think about it."
"Thank you." Castiel grinned happily. "It's been good seeing you again, Dean."
"You too, I guess"
Suddenly, Cas remembered watching Dean squirm in agony earlier. "Is your shoulder okay?"
Castiel's sudden question surprised Dean. His eyes widened slightly as he instinctively clutched his left shoulder which, up until an hour ago, had been burning and itchy.
Castiel rolled his eyes, knowing Dean was lying. He then held out a piece of paper with numbers scrawled onto it. "Incase you need to contact me," he added.
Dean took the card gingerly and stuffed it into his back pocket. Before Cas could say anything else, Dean was already half way out the door. As he watched Dean saunter away into the night he smiled warmly. Thankful that God had led him back to the person who taught him what it was to be Human in the first place. Secretly hoping that this would not be the last he'd see of the man.