After over a month of nothing, Castiel showed up on Dean's bed. As always, his appearance was sudden and without fanfare. In between one breath and then next, Dean suddenly felt the old bunker mattress sink, and he opened his eyes to see the side of his friend's head.
He might have jerked in surprise, but when he rolled up on one elbow to get a look at Cas, any startled noise he was going to make caught in his throat. Cas looked worse than when he'd gotten out of Purgatory, all dirt and blood and wrinkles, like he hadn't been taking care of himself at all. He looked frozen, unable to look away from the low ceiling, and Dean would've thought he was dead if it weren't for the shallow breathing as his chest rose and fell under that torn trench coat.
It was his eyes, though, that silenced Dean. They looked empty, but also screaming, all pain and fear and guilt bottled up in blue eyes, and Dean couldn't help reaching out and putting a hand on Cas's shoulder. "Hey," he said slowly, shifting Castiel to get a better look at him. When he felt himself being moved, though, Cas collapsed, limbs limp against the moth-eaten comforter as he rolled towards Dean's side of the bed.
By the time he'd practically burrowed into Dean's chest, he'd started talking, all in a rush and garbled. Dean could catch phrases of "I'm sorry" and "won't stop" and "never wanted" as Castiel mumbled against him. It was awkward, sure, but dignity doesn't really matter when your best friend vanishes for a month and shows up again like this, so Dean just pulled him in tighter and kept a hand on his back. He could feel Cas shuddering and shaking under his hand as the manic apologies kept spilling out, and for a moment he took a deep breath and allowed himself to be glad that Cas was alive and here and safe before he started to worry.
He'd known something was wrong with Cas after Samandriel's death, and whatever it was had escalated to this. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he choked out against Dean's shirt, and it could have been for any number of things- killing Samandriel, running off, showing up again. And Dean knew, if Cas were anything like himself, it could have been over something that wasn't his fault.
It wasn't until Cas was quiet that Dean realized he'd been crying, sobs wracking his borrowed body as tears seeped into Dean's shirt. It was the first time he'd ever seen the angel cry, and it reminded him of why he'd called Cas a child in the past. That was when Dean started talking, running his hand up and down Cas's body as if it could calm him down and whispering back mantras of "It's okay" and "you're okay" and "it's not your fault" no more coherent than what Castiel had been saying. He didn't have answers, he had questions, but he kept those to himself and let Cas hang onto him, and just kept saying, "You're okay, you're okay," never asking where he'd been or why he hadn't answered their prayers until now.
Cas was gone again by morning, and Dean might have thought his midnight visit a dream, were it not for the angel feathers tangled in the bed sheets and the tearstains on his t-shirt.