Chapter warning- Nothing much other than this is the last one for this series. It's been a blast to write but I feel it has reached its natural conclusion. Anything else would feel forced on my part. No beta so read at your own risk.
Thanks for sticking this out to the end with me. I know some of it has been rough. All your comments and kudos are so very much appreciated and part of the reason that this got finished as quickly as it did. I've pissed some people off by writing it but I think I've made a good number of you happy with it so that is all that matters in the end.
When Dean woke up, he knew immediately that something was off. It was nothing more than a bad taste in his mouth and a lingering headache really. While most could convince themselves that was merely a byproduct of poor sleep and drinking before bed, Dean could just tell it was something different. A hunter lived and died by such feeling, so in his experience it was best not to ignore them if one didn't want to die bloody. He may not be exactly human anymore but that didn't mean he was going to put up with surprises either. It wasn't anything Dean could really nail down in his mind though and after a quick look around the room turned up nothing unusual, Dean decided to brave the day and go downstairs for some breakfast.
The alluring scent of coffee, bacon, and eggs should never be equated to the promise of the unexpected but it was today. Hating it when he was right, Dean's suspicions were confirmed when he stumbled into the kitchen to be greeted by Ellen, the former bar owner and huntress leaning up against Bobby's kitchen counter, enjoying a cup of coffee.
"You're dead.", Dean stated calmly in way of greeting, cause he wasn't crazy and believed in tackling problems head on, even the ones that involved his friends coming back to life unexpectedly. He wasn't too worried about the physical threat of a shifter or reverent or anything else that can come back and take on another's form. He was more than capable of tearing apart most supernaturals with his bare hands thanks to Castiel's meddling. A quick death or something far more drawn out was going to be based solely on whether or not Sam and Bobby were in one piece and still breathing.
"Well damn, good morning to you to, sunshine.", Ellen said dryly, glaring at Dean from over the edge of her cup. "You finally stick yourself someplace tender with that ridiculous knife you keep under your pillow?".
"There wasn't even enough of you and Jo to salt, burn, and bury.", Dean continued almost dully, like he was reciting someone else's horrific life of loss.
"Honey, are you feeling alright?", Ellen asked concerned and it broke Dean's heart just a little bit more. "I'm obviously alive and Jo's with your moose of a brother, still enjoying their honeymoon phase. Let's not go ruining it for them by telling her that she's supposed to be dead.".
"Who's dead now?", Bobby asked, wandering in from the study with ancient text in hand and a cup of coffee that smelled strongly of being Irish in the other, looking very much alive.
"Me apparently.", Ellen said as she kept a eye on Dean, the hunter pale and too still for anyone's continued breathing. On his part, Dean was focused on keeping his halo and wings from appearing in this plane of existence. He had no idea what it would do to other people's eyes and had forgotten to ask Castiel about it the last time they were together in heaven.
"Looking pretty spry for a corpse.", Bobby snorted, leaning in for a kiss even as he shot Dean a look of warning.
"You ole sweet talker.", Ellen rolled her eyes, smacking the old hunter as she returned the affectionate gesture. "Save it for later though. I think something's wrong with Dean."
"Now there's a shocker.", Bobby grumbled, turning to Dean to openly study the tense hunter who was convincing his skin not to burst into flames. "What's eating ya, boy?".
"Oh nothing much, Bobby. Slept well, been feeling good, oh and our dead friends have just come back to life after being blown up. Everything's just peachy. How you doing?", Dean shot back as he started to pace in an attempt to burn off some energy. Nothing was making sense to him. Ellen just felt and smelled human to him, the hunter finally remembering he had other senses now that he could hone in on.
"Blown up? Have you been drinking from the green bottles again? I keep telling you that's not liquor!", Bobby snapped, throwing his tome onto the table just in case he had to stop Dean from doing something Winchester stupid and having no real idea how futile that would be now.
"When we went after the Devil in Missouri with the Colt, Ellen and Jo died.", Dean came to a standstill long enough to explain, making himself remember that terrible night, that suicide run that had claimed a mother and her daughter in its failure.
"No they didn't you idgit. Now I admit it was a close thing but Castiel pulled all your asses out of the fire and healed Jo up good as new after that hellhound made her its own personal chew toy.", Bobby corrected with a definite certainty that brought Dean up short.
"Cas?", Dean managed out as it all started to come together in his head, the day finally making some sort of sense.
"Sweetie, you were there. Don't you remember? You're the one who held Jo's gut in long enough for Castiel to come and heal her.", Ellen said gently as she could, the Winchester looked strangely fragile.
"Let's pretend I don't. What else happened to Jo? And where is Sam? Where is my brother?", Dean asked faintly, part of him hoping that this wasn't all too good to be true and that god wasn't that cruel.
"Jo's where she's been since Missouri. With Sam. Your fool of a brother got her pregnant but had the good sense to marry her before I found out.", Ellen pursed her lips, sounding more displeased than she actually felt. She could actually forgive quite a bit considering she was about to have some fine looking granbabies out of the whole deal.
"Son of a bitch! What the hell did he do?", Dean mumbled to himself, making Ellen and Bobby exchanged worried looks between each other.
"Who? Your brother? I think it's a little late for the birds and bees talk, son.", Bobby prompted to a stream of unintelligible cursing.
"Cas! He did something! None of this is right!", Dean growled, gesturing at Ellen who glared at him back with an indignant look.
"And me being dead is? Or Jo for that matter?", Ellen countered, making Dean cringe as she put her hands on her hips to loom over him which was impressive considering their height difference.
"No! It's just…..wait, did you two just kiss? What the hell?!", Dean mentally fumbled in self preservation, landing on a detail that had been bothering him in the background for a while now.
"That's what married people do on this planet.", Bobby rolled his eyes. Feeling uncomfortable, Dean changed his line of questioning to something he deemed safer for his continued sanity and urge to eat later on.
"What about the Roadhouse?", Dean left out the part of its demise as well just in case.
"Well, if Ash hasn't managed to burn it down or drink himself stupid, I imagine it's still there.", Bobby snorted in amusement at mention of the hacker.
"Oh hush up, Bobby. Pamela keeps a good eye on him. She's been a real good influence. Ash hardly ever even sleeps on the pool tables anymore.", Ellen mused with a smile.
"I wouldn't either if I had that waiting for me in bed.", Bobby said without thinking of the ramifications to be smacked in the back of the head.
Dean couldn't handle anymore of this, whatever this was. Things were getting weirder and weirder by the moment and he needed some answers. "I need a minute.", Dean threw over his shoulder as he practically ran to Bobby's panic room, slamming the iron door behind him.
"Where for art thou, ah fuck it, Cas get your ass down here now.", Dean yelling up at the inscribed ceiling, slapping his hand over the mark on his shoulder to let Castiel know how serious he was through their connection.
"Don't 'Hello dean' me. What the fuck did you do?", Dean snapped, turning to find the god standing right beside him, watching him evenly.
"Nothing too difficult. I merely changed some minor occurrences in your timeline.", Castiel explained like they were discussing the weather and not the reorganization of Dean's reality.
"And brought people back from the dead.", Dean pointed out, trying to stress some important factors here.
"It was not that difficult. Their deaths were not cornerstones in history and thus could be undone with little effort or consequence.", Castiel said, irritating calm.
"And the whole Sam and Jo thing?", Dean asked, because he just had to know. He ignored Castiel as the god gathering the hunter up into a close embrace, the line of their bodies flush.
"Your brother has always yearned for normalcy despite who and what he is. Joana can give him a balance between what he perceives as normal but while still doing so as a hunter.", Castiel said softly, wrapping one arm around Dean's waist to hold him in place while the other caressed Dean's throat in lazy motions. Despite his irritation, Dean could feel himself already leaning into the affection, part of him welcoming it.
"And Bobby and Ellen?", Dean didn't really want to go there. While he viewed both of the older hunters respectively as Sam and his adoptive parents, it just seemed odd to him for them to be really together.
"Two lonely people, broken in similar ways having experienced the loss of a spouse. It seemed fitting.", Castiel touched their foreheads together, bringing his fingers up to start stroking Dean's cheek, his fingertips rasping lightly over the hunter's stubble.
"Ok, I'll give you that one but Pamela and Ash?", Dean pointed out, cause damn. He was a betting man and he couldn't have called that one. He liked the idea of them together though.
"I had no hand in that relationship. It occurred on its own.", Castiel said, looking a touch miffed about it, like a gardener who had overlooked a plant to finding it magnificently blooming right under his nose.
Annoyance, worry, and the dull pang of anger evaporated almost into nothingness as Dean leaned in to press soft kisses against the apple of Castiel's pale cheeks, the god's skin tasting dry and tingly of ozone and electricity.
"No shit. Go Ash. Who woulda thought that little nerd had it in him.", Dean chuckled, feeling proud for the computer geek with the mullet.
"Are you displeased?", Castiel murmured the question. He hummed in approval as Dean brought out his fiery wings to wrap them both in their embrace of living flame.
"No…..just surprised is all though I guess by now I shouldn't be.", Dean sighed, giving it some quick thought. "Thanks".
"My pleasure.", Castiel smiled into the kiss that was pressed to his lips by hunter.
"Why did you do it?", cause Dean could never leave things well enough alone but Castiel did not seemed displeased by the question. If anything, he looked fondly at Dean and his need to know everything.
"You have been looking after others for your entire existence. Now they can look after each other.", Castiel told him gently. "No real harm will come to them ever again even now. They have my mark upon them all."
"So what now?", Dean asked at a loss, feeling like something heavy and crucial had been taken away from him.
"I do not know. Isn't that strange to hear from god?", Castiel grinned, "I think the correct question here though it this- What do you want to do Dean?".
"I-I don't know.", Dean stammered. He couldn't remember that last time anyone had asked him that and meant it. "Can I think about it?".
"Of course, my beloved. For as long as you like." which turned out to be not very long at all, Dean being Dean.
"I want to drive.", Dean admitted aloud slowly but with conviction, like he expected Castiel to argue with him.
"We can do that.", Castiel conceded graciously though.
"I want to look for cases, save people, drink too much, and eat shitty diner food.", Dean expanded, searching Castiel's face for any sort of resistance.
"We can do that too", the god remained placid, his head tilted slightly to the side.
"Won't it be boring for you?", Dean pressed, part of him still expecting this whole thing to fall apart that the seams.
"No. I'll be with you.", Castiel leaned in to pressed a full soft kiss to Dean's lips in what felt like more than just a promise.
"Alright, enough of that. We're turning this into a damn chick flick moment.", Dean blushed, glaring at Castiel though the look held no real venom in it as the hunter tried to keep the growing excitement out of his voice. "If we do this, we do it for as long as I want. No dipping out to the other side of the universe, no miracles, no cheating with godlike powers. We hunt, we save people, and we do it my way. Deal?"
Castiel cupped Dean's face to pull the hunter into a full kiss, the parallels of the past playing merry hell with Dean's emotions until he looked into the god's eye. Powerful and endless like the captured nebulas the orbs were, they were filled to their edges with a love that was binding beyond any mere words. Divine infinite promise lay there in that surreal blue and it was all for Dean, here, now, and forever.
"Hey! No touching! Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole.", Dean smacked the straying hand away from the cassette player's volume with long practiced ease.
"But I'm God.", Castiel glowered petulantly, abusing his power enough to at least change the song from Aerosmith to something he knew they would both enjoy.
"Look at all the fuck I give. Those the rules, god or no god. Love 'em, live by 'em, or start walking.", Dean glared but gave up his faked ire to start singing along with the song. He had to give it up to god. It was a good pick.
'Carry on my wayward son'
"I've always like this song.", Castiel said, leaning back in the Impala's plush, well cared for leather.
'There'll be peace when you are done,
Lay your weary head to rest'
Dean looked over at the being beside him, his forever angel despite all new titles and powers. He was his savior, his best friend, his lover, and his own personal god and if Dean wanted to, he could keep them like this for the rest of eternity. "I knew there was a reason I liked you, angel face."
'Don't you cry no more'