Posted this on my tumblr originally, but liked the idea enough to clean it up a bit and post it here.
I don't own Supernatural, in case that needed saying.
Cas calls it the House of the Dying. That is not its proper name, of course, but he feels it may as well be; it is accurate at least. It is not a place of healing or even of hope, but instead a place of decay and death. Once humans cross the threshold of the carved mahogany doors at the entrance, they seldom leave again, except, perhaps to smoke the occasional cigarette. But soon, even that luxury is left behind to the more able-bodied and is allowed to slip away into hazy memory, soon to be lost.
The sharp smell of disinfectant stings his nostrils as he glides down the carpeted hallway, quiet and pensive. The hall is dim, stretching on and on into shadow. He does not need to venture far into the gaping maw of darkness before he finds his destination. He finds himself nervous as he pushes the door open, and he doesn't understand why.
The figure in the bed is still, eyes lightly closed. It does not surprise Cas, finding him asleep; that's what he does with most of his time now. His body is tired, weary from a long battle with life, and his wrinkled face, though peaceful in sleep, reflects that same, soul-deep exhaustion. But it's the same face, no matter how ravaged by the passage of years, and Cas can find some comfort in that.
He opens his eyes when Cas steps inside, looking up at him blearily. Time has not dulled those familiar, vibrant green irises, and somewhere deep inside Cas, a vague sense of happiness stirs.
"Hello, Dean," he says, not daring to smile. He waits for recognition to flicker in Dean's gaze, but it doesn't.
Dean takes a raspy breath, oxygen puffing into his nostrils through his nasal cannula, and he asks, "Do I know you?"
It cuts deeper than any angel-forged blade ever could, but Cas doesn't let it show. He has had eons to master his stoic mask, and he cannot let it falter now.
"I'm Cas," he says, using the nickname Dean gave him all those years ago, before age and illness ravaged the hunter's brain. Whether he hopes it will cause some spark of remembrance in Dean or he's merely doing it for his own comfort, he still isn't sure. "I am your friend. From a long time ago."
He visits again the next night. This time, Dean is already awake when he comes, and the two of them stare at each other long and intently. It's almost familiar, Cas thinks, and something resembling nostalgia stirs in his gut.
"Sammy?" Dean asks uncertainly, squinting after a moment. "Is that you?"
"No, Dean," says Cas. Dean looks crestfallen. Cas puts a tentative hand on Dean's arm. At one time, Dean likely would have flinched away from the contact, but he does not move. "Your brother is safe. He has been for some time."
"Where is he?"
"Have you seen him?"
"Who are you?"
Cas wants to smile, but it hurts too much.
"I'm Cas," he says. "And I am your friend."
Cas almost doesn't visit again. Seeing Dean in such a state is undeniably painful, and he almost convinces himself it isn't worth it before he returns three days later. Dean is asleep again, but his eyes open the moment Cas steps inside. Perhaps there is something of the young hunter left in him after all.
"Hello, Dean," Cas says.
"What are you doing here?"
"I came to visit you."
Cas has no answer, so he doesn't bother trying to give one.
"Where are you from?"
"And you came just to see me?" Dean scoffs, and it's a familiar sound. So agonizingly familiar…an echo of a life gone by, one that Cas knows he shouldn't miss, but does anyway.
Again, Cas remains silent.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Cas," he says. "And I will always be your friend."
Dean does not wake up right away when Cas arrives for the final time. He's not sure how he knows it is the final time, but something in him is certain. He stands next to the bed, listening intently to the steady puff of oxygen through the cannula, and waits. For what, he can't say.
Cas glances at the calendar on the wall. It's a Thursday. How appropriate.
When Dean opens his eyes, they focus straight on Cas with shocking quickness. "I know you…" he rasps in a voice too weak to be his own.
"You do," says Cas. He can't quite work out if it's meant to be a question or a statement.
"Seen you before."
"What's your name?"
This time, Cas comes very close to managing a smile, and he places two fingers on Dean's wrinkled brow.
"My name is Cas," he says, his voice hitching in a way that is far too human for his own comfort. "And I love you very much."
He sends Dean off to sleep.
The grass is green beneath his feet, and the air is sweet with the scent of autumn leaves. The sky is a perfect blue, a color only seen on the most precious of days. Cas' steps are unhurried and thoughtful as the green blades softly kiss the soles of his shoes. He sees him, not far off, standing by the tree line, appearing not to know what to do with himself. This is too peaceful, not what he's used to. Surely he couldn't have earned true rest, couldn't have finished all the trials that life held for him.
Perhaps he can learn to accept that he may just have earned Paradise yet, and ten times over at that.
When Dean turns, his face is a familiar one, young and bright. Their eyes meet.
"Cas?" Dean says.