August 31, 2015

"I'm proud of you, Sammy." Cas gave him the half smile that he had perfected over the past year, the one that was enough of a smile to make Sam think that he was 'alright'. He'd survived one year post-Dean. It had been hell, every goddamned day, but he had made it. He'd seen Sammy through his last year of high school, and his graduation, and his admission to the college. He was leaving that day to head up to the campus with Jess.

"Thanks, Cas." Sam smiled, a goofy little grin that he'd been wearing since delivering his graduation speech. He bent over to wrap Cas in a hug, his six-foot four-inch frame towering over Cas'. Cas clung to Sam, listening to the solid thump of the kid's heart that assured him he was alive and kicking.

"Okay, you guys better head out. Make sure that you stop at a hotel when you get tired. Text me when you get where you're going for the night." Sam nodded and climbed into the front seat of Jess' car. Jess waved happily at him from the passenger's seat, and then they were off. Cas stood on the porch, watching until the tail lights of the car disappeared into the background.

His hands flicked anxiously at his sides as he walked back into the house. He looked around, his eyes hovering over all of the pictures that clung to the walls which now seemed far too spacious and large. The silence that stretched out to greet him was gripping. He missed having Sam and Jess arguing over what show they were going to watch. He missed Dean leering at him over the top of the newspaper. He missed his family.

He was halfway to the kitchen when he cursed under his breath and walked back out to the Impala, slipping behind the wheel and flicking the engine on. He pulled out of the driveway carefully, driving on autopilot and trying his best to wrack his brain and remember the directions to his destination.

When he pulled up in front of the looming barn, he mentally congratulated his own memory, and slipped out of the car carefully. He hadn't been back there since...and as far as he knew, the rest of the crew had pretty much vacated the premises as well. He had to work to push the sliding door open, the track creaking and rust fluttering through the air.

The stills were silent, the air stagnant around them as they hovered like forgotten relics in the center of the barn. He stepped forward, running his fingers over the cool, riveted copper. A knock of his fingers against the drum revealed that there was still liquid half filling the still, and Cas couldn't help but think that the crew had left in a hurry.

He made his way past the stills and into the office. He snagged Ash's computer chair, the faint smell of stale beer still clinging to the dusty leather, and rolled it into the center of the barn. He pulled a cigarette from the pack in his breast pocket and placed it between his lips, unlit. If he listened hard enough, he swore he could still hear the voices of his family and friends echoing back at him off the tattered wood...

"I'm glad that you were comfortable with telling me about your scars."

"That's because I want to tell you everything, Cas. I want you to know my story. Beginning to end. The pages of it before the day that you showed up are a little torn, but they're still part of the story, so I want to tell them, even if it hurts."

"Well, I'll always be here to listen."

"Promise?"

"I promise."

His shaking hands reached into his pocket for the match book, and he pulled a match from it, staring at the unassuming little match as if it were God's gift to man kind. He sucked a breath through his teeth, the dry taste of nicotine hovering in the cigarette reminding him of the taste of Dean's lips the first time they'd kissed.

"I just...don't...don't hate me, okay?"

"Dean, you're...you're my best friend, I could never hate you."

"That's why I'm afraid you will, Cas. I don't...I don't want to fuck this up, but I...I can't anymore, Cas."

"You can't what, Dean?"

"I just can't. Please, Cas. Please don't hate me..."

Cas placed the match head against the striker, his fingers numb and shaking, causing him to drop it before striking it. His eyes were bleary with tears as he reached down to pick it up, cursing around a sniffle. When he had the match in his hand, he sighed, setting it on his knee and tucking the cigarette behind his ear, chosing instead to pull the flask of Jack from his boot and he took a long swallow.

"I want to do this right. I want to do this the way that my mother would have taught me. I want to make her proud. I want to make you proud, Cas."

Another swallow. He felt the warmth of the alcohol spreading to his limbs. Calming the shaking. Allowing the memories to flow more freely. Making him brave.

"Your hair looks like shit."

"I think that's my line."

"Hmm. Maybe, but if the shoe fits, babe."

He drew his hand over his eyes, no longer trying to stem the flow of tears and breathless, gasping sobs. He wasn't ashamed. Not here. Not with Dean's memory holding him tighter then any embrace he'd ever had. Never, ever. Not with his Dean.

"What happens when you aren't around me anymore, Dean?"

"What the hell makes you think I'm going anywhere? I'm in this, Cas. All the way, better or worse, like it or not, you're stuck with me."

"You lied." He whispered to the empty expanse of the barn, his voice still quivering, not stilled by the flow of booze. "You said you'd always be here, but you're gone, Dean." He choked out another sob, his chin dropping to his chest and the tears flowing off the end of his nose, disappearing into the dark blue denim of his jeans. "You're gone, and I miss you like hell." He whimpered.

He remembered everything with Dean. Words of love, whispered like a prayer in the early morning hours when their sweaty limbs were tangled and the summer rain pounded the roof, keeping time with their heart beats. He remembered the way that Dean's shirts smelled when he pulled them off the floor and tugged them over his head the next morning. The way that Dean would kiss him stupid when he was ranting about something meaningless. The goofy grin that Sammy got on his face when Dean mouthed the words 'I love you' at Cas across the dinner table when he didn't think Sam was looking.

"Don't tell Dean that I said this, 'cause I'll deny it until the day that I die, but you two? You're more then just my brother and his boyfriend. Dean has always been more like a dad then a brother, and now I've got you too. And when you guys keep an eye on me, and watch out for me, it's almost like I get to be normal. Well, normal for us anyway. It's like I have two parents, and it's kinda like none of the bad shit that's happened before ever existed."

He downed the rest of the whiskey and tossed the flask on the ground, snagging the cigarette with alcohol-brave fingers. He tucked it between his fingers and stared down at the match again.

"Yeah, I do. I've had a thing for motorcycles since I was a kid. I've always wanted to get one, I just haven't had spare cash or time. There's just something about them. Reckless. Wild. Daring."

"Like you."

He stood slowly, the match and match book pinched between his fingers.

"I don't know, that didn't really seem like us. We've always been different, you and me, Cas. More gun powder and lighter fluid then hearts and flowers."

The match flared as he struck it, watching the flame sizzle for a moment before pulling it up to the cigarette. He inhaled deeply, the smoke burning across his tongue before he exhaled.

"You love me, Cas?"

"Of course I love you."

He took another step away from the chair, dropping the flaming match to the ground and watch as stray bits of hay sparked and crackled. He pulled another match from the book, lighting it, and dropping it beside the other, repeating the process until there was a trail of fire down the center of the barn, and he only had one last match. He lifted it out of the book slowly, looking it over as if he was appraising a priceless artifact.

"I'm Sheriff Novak, we got a call about your residence. The caller said that they were concerned because they thought they smelled something burning."

"S'that right? Well, I can assure you, there ain't any fires here."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm pretty sure that we'd be the first to know if we had a fire, Sheriff."

The match struck on the first try. It was a bright flame. Orange tinged with blue. Castiel watched it with detatched curiousity before stepping forward, opening the hatch on the still, and tossing it in.

"You said you wanted to see what I do. This is what I do."

The shine caught fire easily, the flames licking out of the still like a demon trying to attack anything it could reach. Cas strolled back over to the chair, sitting carefully and taking another drag off the cigarette, tilting his head back and letting the smoke escape his lips in serpent-like pillars. The smoke filling the barn was suffocating, and he could feel it threatening to pull him under its fog.

"But I want that. With you. All of it, the shitty parts, the good parts. I want barbeques with you and Sammy, and I want to take you to dinner at some cheesy-ass restaurant where I have to wear a suit jacket and everything. I want to be the one to make sure that you're okay, and I want to be the one that you come home to at night."

By the time the fire had started to bite at the toes of his boots, and the heat had begun to get unbearable, he was halfway to passed out. His head drooping forward. The last thing that he felt was the tightness of arms wrapping around his shoulders. He lifted his head enough to look up through lidded, droopy eyes and found shining green eyes staring back down at him, a familiar smirk greeting him.

"Hello, Dean." He whispered, smiling weakly at him.

"Hey, babe. It's gettin' awfully hot in here, don't you think?" Cas nodded numbly.

"S'okay though." He responded, reaching out to put his hand on Dean's forearm. "M'coming home. M'gonna see you again. Took care of Sammy. He's all grown up now. Gonna be a big shot lawyer. He told m'so."

"I know he is. I'm so proud of you. C'mon, Cas." Dean whispered as the flames started up the chair and Cas faded into unconciousness. "Let's go home..."

"Yeah, Dean, we'll look out for Sammy. You and me. Always."

"I love you, C-Cas."

"I love you too, Dean. More then anything."