-This was written under constant repeat of the song "Turning Page" by Sleeping at Last at 4 a.m. so I apologize in advance.-

Amen

"Dean?" He stared at Dean's back, Sam absent after finally getting the hint that they needed to speak. Dean didn't move, still staring at the floor. "Dean, what's wrong?"

"I don't get it," he breathed, voice gruff and dark. "I don't get how…why you would just push me through. I don't get why I couldn't hang on tighter, I don't understand why I thought you let go in the first place, Cas. I…I don't get how it isn't…"

The angel stepped closer to him, a gentle hand on his shoulder, turning him to face him. The stagnant tears in his eyes hovered precariously. He looked so lost, so hurt and confused. Slowly, Castiel reached out to touch his cheek. "Dean, as I said before, this is not your fault. I made the choice to stay. I chose to save you. You're worth far more than I am, and you are not to blame for anything." He gently caressed the skin beneath his palm, never looking away from him. "Please, for once, don't let yourself carry this weight. Let me bear it on my own."

"I don't know how," he admitted, pursing his lips, forcing the tears away. He gave a weak shrug, never shying from the angel's touch. "I don't know what to do, Cas."

"You can answer a question for me," he whispered. "Do you…do you still…?"

"Yes," he said immediately, a single tear slipping down his face. "I never stopped, Cas. Not once."

"I'm glad."

Barely a breath passed before their mouths –hungry and desperate- were on each other, Dean soft and pliant in the angel's arms. "I missed you," he muttered brokenly. "I missed you so damn much, Cas."

"I missed you too," he agreed, touching him as gently as possible, handling him as if he were made of glass. The smell of his skin was so close again, intoxicating and near. The feel of his lips and his body was so familiar, yet new once again. "I missed everything about you, Dean." He held his face, fingers carding through his hair simply to feel him again. "And I want you to know," a small, gentle smile. "You could never let me down. You've never failed me." Dean fought so hard not to cry, kept fighting even though he knew the fighting was done. Fighting because it really was all he knew how to do.

"But-but I, Cas, I didn't-"

"Shh…" Dean felt his warmth seeping into him, bleeding into him and coiling around his heart and his bones, comfort he hadn't known in what felt like decades. He shut his eyes, more hot tears falling that Castiel wiped away. "Shh…No more, Dean. No more guilt or pain on my behalf. I've served my time and you've certainly done yours. I was more than happy to stay there if it meant your safety, you know that." He kissed him again, butterfly soft and somehow so passionate at once.

"There was so much I should have told you before-"

"Dean, please," he was begging now, begging this beautiful, sweet, misguided creature to see, just for once, that he wasn't a monster or a disappointment. That he wasn't the broken mess he'd been led to believe. "I knew. Your fervor toward getting me out was enough. Now, please…please stop harming yourself for something you didn't do."

Dean succumbed to him immediately, in a rare occasion allowing someone to care for him. He kissed back languidly, sinking into his arms and gripping the fabric of his coat as tightly as his hands would allow. "I'm here," he assured, feeling Dean's desperation and need in his touch, stroking his cheek. "I'm right here. I won't leave you again."

How broken Dean was. So shattered from the inside out, so guilty for what he hadn't done. He was so used to being blamed, so used to being scorned and forced to carry weights he didn't need to, and it broke the angel's heart every time.

"I told you I need you," he breathed, shaking, staring up at him with eyes more vulnerable than he'd ever let Sam see. That he'd only let Castiel see. Another gentle, warm kiss to wanting lips.

"And I am here," he whispered, lips pressing to his temples and his cheeks, worshipping this extraordinarily loving man the way he deserved. He gave a small smile, filled with the light and beauty that came with his celestial being. "I always come when you call."

Dean kissed him with overwhelming desperation, so slow and precious. They had time here, infinite minutes and seconds of safety, of calm. No leviathan ready to swoop in and rip them to shreds, no vampires aching to bleed them dry, nothing that wanted to steal his angel's purity or take advantage of his humanity.

Here it was just this worn motel room bed, Dean, Cas, the walls, and sacred, cherished time.

Dean was malleable in the angel's arms, pliable and willing to do as Castiel pleased. "Shh…" So sweet, feather light and just as soft, from his fingertips to his mouth. The angel was piecing him together again, sewing him back together with such inhuman care and patience, infinite wisdom in his eyes. Here, right here and now, Dean had never felt safer, home.

Before he could blink those soft hands were caressing his skin, the pads of his fingers tracing the patterns of his veins, of his muscles and his scars, every detail he'd mapped out so long ago. The hunter's calloused hands found his face, looking at him with those eyes. They should look younger. They should be more hopeful. They shouldn't be filled with tears and echoes of other worlds that had torn him down to nothing but a raw, naked nerve that felt everything resonate within him, a nerve that build callous and walls to shield him from the pain and seal himself within its walls to hide.

Strong as Dean Winchester may appear, his heart was a fragile thing, one that the angel himself had broken. He'd atoned for it, but adding to the age and unbearable weight in his face and eyes was something he'd never forgive himself for. A century in Purgatory or Hell itself could never fully take that guilt away.

"Cas?"

Oh, Dean, don't cry, please.

"Shh, hush, hush now. No more pain, Dean. Not now," he pleaded, kissing just behind his ear and his jaw. His lips moved to the base of his neck and his clavicle, hands kneading the flesh of his sides. Their bare chests pressed together, slicked with a mist of sweat, Dean so submissive, so meek. Fatigue and relief had brought him to this, to allow Cas to strip him naked to a vulnerability he wasn't aware of. And for once he trusts someone enough to catch him.

He relaxes some when Castiel's body is as bare as his, feeling the familiar heat of his grace coming from his chest, the next kiss swelling his heart so much it was almost painful. He moaned into his touch, so quiet compared to the gasps he'd been heaving. And there was Castiel to soothe him, to relax him. To be this close to him again, to feel pleasure he would never deny in a rhythm so new, so careful, like a lullaby.

Castiel was inside him, making his body thrum with life. He tensed and relaxed in time with his body, allowing his nerves and muscles to respond on their own. He didn't think. He didn't speak. He whimpered every now and again, latching onto Castiel's lips, hands clenched in the sheets, white knuckled and afraid. Until fingers slid in his own, keeping him in this moment with him. He stared up into the eyes of his continuous savior that had shattered himself to help him, who had fought, and tried, and bled for him almost every day since he'd met him. He looked and touched him with want, reason, purpose.

Love.

God did Dean know he was loved.

And when his vision was white, his angel's name on his tongue with the taste of him still lingering, he crumpled, small. Hot passion poured from his lips when he kissed him, coaxing him into his own release with wet whispers beside his ear, lashes fluttering when he did, bones jelly and numb again.

The tuckered guardian kissed his charge over and over, whispering "I love you" in a prayer, a mantra designed to make Dean believe him, to understand him, to know he did it all for him. That he was there. He'd done nothing wrong. And now, all he needed to do was

"Sleep," he urged, cleaning them off with a sweep of his hand over his forehead. He took Dean into his arms, knowing he'd shrug out of it when he woke and never speak of what had transpired between them. He rested his head against the angel's chest, in wonder because he'd sworn he'd never be able to do this again. He shut his eyes, letting the last of the pain seep from his joints, the suffocating bindings dissolving from his heart.

And just before he drifted away, eyes closed, peaceful and gloriously beautiful in his humanity, Dean mumbled almost inaudibly,

"I love you too."


A/N: Please review. Thank you.