You swore and said

"We are not

We are not shining stars"

This I know

I never said we are

-"Carry On" Fun.


When Dean sees Castiel his thoughts come to a screeching halt. The beard's fuller than Dean remembers. The guy looks maybe a bit more tired and defeated, but he's not injured badly. He's dirty and tattered but no worse than to be expected. But most of all, it worked. Cas is here. He's alive. Somehow he's still alive and he's here.

Cas sort of... appeared out of thin air. No sound of wings like he'd flown here because, well, he hadn't. He'd sort of been shoved. At least, that was how Kevin had explained it. Cas stumbled a few steps forward when he appeared, like he's been running. Which, to be honest, he probably has. He's staring at Dean with those electric eyes, huge and round, that same tired look Dean had gotten used to down in Purgatory deep and dark. There's shock there, that's the overwhelming emotion, but something else as well... Something Dean can't quite pick out yet.

"It worked!" Sam's got that tone that never fails to remind Dean of when he was just a scrawny brat of a kid, and Dean realizes Sam's probably expecting him to say something. Dean's been the one hellbent on getting Cas back ever since the possibility arose. But now that he's here, against everything Dean had actually let himself truly hope (Cas was dead-he was alone in Purgatory for months, there was absolutely no way he was still alive), Dean can't figure out how to make his vocal chords work. Even if he could... what does he say?

Cas's attention turns to Sam, like he hadn't noticed the younger brother was there. The tension in his body melts slightly.

"Sam."

"Hey, Cas."

Dean can hear the grin in Sam's voice. Cas's eyes flicker back to Dean and now Sam's looking at him too, and out of the corner of his eye Dean can see that look that Sam gets when Cas comes up in conversation anymore. Ever since they started to suspect Cas was working with Crowley, Sam had perfected this look. It makes Dean want to break the brat's nose.

"I'm... gonna let you two talk..." Sam says slowly, backing up out of the room. Dean is going to kick his ass after this. Never mind the fact he actually does appreciate it.

There's silence at first. This oppressive silence that is actually suffocating, just the two of them staring at each other like they can't believe this isn't some figment of their imaginations, some cruel trick being played on them.

"You know, this would've been a lot easier if you'd just come with us in the first place," Dean says gruffly. There. A joke. ...Sort of. Teasing? Something. Whatever it is, it should relieve some of this damn tension.

"I wouldn't have come if you'd given me the choice."

Trust Cas to be the one person who won't allow the tension to be relieved.

"Oh, will you stop this?"

Cas pulls himself back, expression dead and walls up. "No, Dean. Purgatory is what I deserve. I know that. I accept that."

"Seriously? Cas, I thought we were past all that!" Dean exclaims, throwing his hands in the air.

"The number of people I killed does not just 'go away', Dean," Cas says quietly, his eyes penetrating, that familiar look of 'I'm an angel, stop arguing' there. But Dean's never obeyed that look.

"So you made some shit mistakes! I get that!" His arms are gesturing wildly. "I've made shit mistakes too! Everyone does!"

Cas's jaw is solid rock. "Not everyone brings on the deaths of thousands," he argues. Dean rolls his eyes.

"Oh, shut up. Not everyone is a freakin' angel of the freakin' Lord," Dean barks, pissed off enough he feels like he can spit fire. "Sam brought on the freakin' apocalypse and yet we're not saying he deserved the Pit!"

"It's different," Cas says quietly, eyes finally leaving Dean's.

"The fuck it is," Dean snaps. He wants Cas to wince at that, to break, to crumble. It's a bitchy thing to want, but it's better than Cas standing there like a statue. He's even leaning backwards a bit, not like he's trying to get away from Dean, but like he's willing himself back to Purgatory. It makes something ugly twist in Dean's chest. He sighs heavily and raises a hand to rub at his eyes. Suddenly he feels so old.

"Cas," he says quietly, the name dragged out in a long exhale. "I've long since forgiven you. What's the hold up?"

Cas looks up at that, and his nostrils actually flare. Dean lets his own bitchface fall into place.

"If we're doing some martyr 'haven't forgiven yourself' complex thing here, man up," he says tersely. He is so done with this bullshit. "We need you here, Cas."

"No you don't," Cas replies without missing a beat. Like he's rehearsed this argument. Bastard probably has. "You and Sam can get along fine without me. You did for years before you met me. And you continue to do so."

Dean full on bristles. "All right, fine, we don't actually need you on hunts and stuff, but Cas. Come on." He's running out of arguments and he knows it, but he can't just leave it here like this. Sure, Cas can't go back without ripping another hole to Purgatory, which there was no way he would ever do that, but who knows what else Cas could do? If he's perfectly honest with himself, Dean won't actually put suicide past Cas at this point, and for a moment Dean has a flash of horrible images of walking in on Cas with a rope around his neck or wrists slashed or, honestly, it would probably end up being a drug overdose, and then, oh, there are those memories of the Cas in 2014 and that is enough of that. Dean can't just let this go. He can't let Cas fall apart anymore than he already has. He just can't.

But Cas is still staring at him with those wide unblinking eyes, and they're sad and it's worse than a wounded puppy. Hell, it's right up there with Sammy's puppy eyes, except that these are broken and old and the light and determination that once drove Dean crazy are gone and it just fucking hurts. And now it's Dean looking away, swallowing heavily to push back the rock that's appeared in his throat.

"Oh for heaven's sake," he says in a breath, before setting his jaw and looking back up, stare solid as stone. "I need you, Cas. That make a difference?"

Cas is silent for a moment, and he looks stunned. Unblinking gaze is suddenly blinking rapidly like he's just been slapped and his head is even reeling back slightly. Dean grinds his teeth and looks away again.

"What do you mean?" Cas asks finally, softly.

Dean rolls his eyes, throwing out his arms in frustration, determinedly continuing to look anywhere but directly at the angel. "Oh, for... I don't know. Can we just move on now? Please?" He spares Cas a look and almost immediately looks away. He's not sure what he sees there, but it's got Dean's nerves all twitchy and he doesn't like it.

"No."

At that, Dean can't help but look again. It's like the full weight of 'angel of the Lord' is back behind that voice. Something Dean hadn't heard in far, far too long. Not loud and booming, but powerful enough that it doesn't need to be. Cas is still staring at Dean with that... that look that Dean can't quite put his finger on. But he's sure he's seen it before, just not since Purgatory...

Cas takes a small, tentative step closer to Dean. "What do you mean 'you need me'?" he asks, more gently than the burst of angelic mojo but still stronger than the first time he asked. He's not going to stop asking until Dean answers satisfactorily.

Dean lets out what's supposed to be a dramatic long suffering sigh but ends up being more shuddering and real than dramatic. He runs a hand through his hair and closes his eyes. Those images, the memories of future Cas run through his mind again and, when he opens his eyes it takes him a moment before he can look at the real Cas, the Cas who is still standing right here in front of him, dirty and bearded and all too similar to that other Cas, but still not quite there yet, still with a sliver of hope that Dean could maybe mold into something more and mend and return the favor of healing finally after so many years.

"I don't actually know," he says and now he's forcing himself to keep locked with that steely blue gaze so the angel knows he telling the truth. "All right? But, I mean, we both know I don't exactly admit I need anyone ever, so let's just accept the chick flick moment and move on, all right?" He has a serious issue with heart to hearts, he decides. Sammy's been telling him that for years, but man, he really does.

Cas doesn't really react. It looks like he might be mulling this information over, trying to decide how to interpret it. Dean figures he'll let him do just that, but he's not going to just stand here until Cas reaches a verdict. He walks over towards the door Sam disappeared through.

"I'm gonna get Sammy back in here," he tells him, just to break the silence, before barking out into the hallway. "Sammy!"

And then, quietly, almost too quiet for Dean to catch, Cas speaks.

"I need you too, Dean."