A/N: This story is set about 9 months after 8x17. Based on the assumption that it will have to be Castiel who will have to do the angel tablet trials and how this might affect his and Dean's relationship. Told from Dean's POV.

This is my first dabble in the Destiel fandom and I hope I managed to do these amazing characters justice.

A Light To My Path

"What's going to happen tomorrow?" Dean gritted out through tight lips, his body feeling tense and sore, wound tight from too many weeks of not enough sleep and too many things he'd rather not think about.

The words just seemed to levitate in the room, almost tangible. The one thing he had not dared to ask, finally out in the open. The bazillion dollar question, hanging heavy in the air and putting an extra layer onto the already suffocating atmosphere. Pandora's box finally opened.

As soon as the words had left his mouth Dean wished he could shove them right back in and he purposefully sucked in a deep gulp of air and screwed his mouth shut as though that would somehow magically get them back. But, they were out now, there was no going back.

Resigned, Dean steeled his features instead, slipping on that 'I don't give a damn' mask he had perfected over the years, and turned to look up at Castiel from where he was sitting on the edge of his bed, fixing him with his gaze. Castiel stood unresponsive in the doorway, not meeting Dean's eyes, instead burning holes into the wall behind him.

Dean could already feel getting infuriated by Castiel's impassiveness, a tingling, fierce crawl just under the surface of his skin. He had not real intention to fight or argue but at the same time should opportunity present itself … it would feel good to let off some steam. To feel something other than this numbness that has started to take hold in his heart over the last couple of week, spreading inside him like a cancer.

That had been the reason he had retreated into his room in the first place. He knew the signs, knew when he was about to explode like a pressure cooker. Knew it would be utterly unfair on his brother and friend to have to deal with him in this state. Most of all he knew he did not want to have this talk with Castiel, not today not ever if he could help it. Not that they had forever, but who could expect him to be rational at a time like this.

And Dean had thought he had managed to slip away quietly while Castiel and Sam were discussing battle plans. But then Castiel had to follow him into his room, not daring to look at him but making it very clear by the way he was holding himself that he knew too. Understood what was driving Dean insane and that he wanted to talk, offer some assistance, while at the same time looking lost for what to say, much like Dean.

They had been dancing on the brink of this for days. Ever since Kevin had managed to decipher the last trial. Even Sam had picked up on the way Dean was being irrational and arguing over everything and nothing, and how Castiel more often than usual joined in, letting his own frustration show. And Sam had tried to mediate, which had only earned him Dean's wrath, and Dean knew he was only trying to help but this was not something Sam could fix, no one could. In the end Sam had decided it would be best to leave Dean and Castiel to their own devices.

This whole mess was compounded by the strain of trying to stay off Naomi's and Crowley's radar and being holed up in the confined space of their 'bat cave' as Dean liked to refer to it. It was like they were all suffering from a case of severe claustrophobia on top of the very real emotional trauma no one was willing to face.

But as hard as he had tried not to show what was really going on inside him, as soon as Dean had felt the angel's presence in his room, the lid on his pressure cooker had come flying off, exploded in his face. His thoughts, fears, all the trauma of what he might be about to lose finally overtaking him. Yes he had managed to slip the mask back on quick enough but underneath it he was being tossed around and torn apart like a ship being hurled around by the waves of a raging ocean.

Dean's question still hung weightily between them as he continued to fix Castiel with his stare as though he could rip the answer out of him by his will alone. And he was tempted to try! Castiel was still standing near the door, hovering, as if he was debating whether he wanted to come all the way in and face Dean or leave again. His posture was slouched and there was none of his usual bravado left. Dean chanced a closer look at the angel. He looked tired and gaunt. Dark circles were prominent under his eyes and the odd bruise that would take his vessel the normal human amount of time to heal. And some of his anger dissipated at the sight and was replaced with fear and trepidation. It hurt Dean deeply seeing Castiel like this and not being able to protect him from it.

Dean knew this deep exhaustion was a side effect of the previous trials Castiel had to face. Made worse by the fact that mojo healing of his surface wounds was currently out of the question, as according to Castiel heaven would be able to pinpoint him should he use his powers. Dean had at the time jokingly referred to it as "Angel GPS". That was before he had fully comprehended the extend of how vulnerable Castiel would be without the use of any of his angelic abilities.

Worst though, Dean was convinced that despite everything that had happened between Castiel and his fellow angels, being cut off from heaven wore heavily on him, grating and chipping away at his innermost being bit by bit. Dean could only sympathise but really, he had no idea what it must feel like to basically betray your whole kind even if the reasons were just.

Dean sighed in frustration. Castiel stubbornly refused to lift his eyes and instead had them glued to his hands which were tightly clenched. Something for which Dean could throttle him right now, if only to ease some of his own tension,

"CAS!" Dean yelled trying once more to get the angels attention. "I asked you a question!"

Finally! Castiel shifted his gaze, now looking Dean dead in the eyes, swallowing hard, mouth working but no intelligible sound making it past those tense lips.

"I heard you the first time... It's just... I don't have an answer to give to you to that question. I really don't know. So what point is there speculating?" He eventually offered in terms of a reply.

Dean grunted at the typical pragmatic reply he got. Even after all this time Castiel could drive him crazy with his uber-angelic logic and lack of emotional responsiveness, and for Dean, who knew a thing or two about not wanting to talk, that was saying something.

Dean put his head into his hands, letting his fingers run through his short hair in exasperation as he thought of what to say next. He had a collection of 'choice' words right there on the tip of his tongue but he swallowed it down. He was tired, so, so tired. The sort of tiredness not even a week of sleep would be able to fix. He still had no idea what would happen to Sam when he finally finished that third trial, the worry of losing him to this ever present in his mind and now here he was with the real chance of losing the only other person that was still left in his life. And where would that leave him? Hell, he didn't even know whether he would want to carry on on his own. Yes, they would have saved the earth, universe and everything in it for the hopefully final time but what would there be left for him?

And on a most fundamental, basic level of what defined his existence, it drove him insane that there was not a damn thing he could do about it. Just like he never really was able to safe anyone who mattered to him in the past, he was useless, a waste of space, just someone to take up oxygen while around him the cards were shuffled and pieces pushed into position for another battle.

Dean clenched his jaw, could feel his teeth grind together as a new wave of frustration worked its way through his system. Any other night he would let this go but tonight he needed answers like he needed air. Something to help him untangle this web of despair he found himself in. Something to hang on to when tomorrow comes.

"DAMN IT Cas! Just... I don't know. Indulge me, ok! You must have some thoughts on the matter. I mean … Come on! I just want to prepare myself for what might be ahead." Dean looked at Castiel with blazing green eyes, trying so hard to not let any real emotions slip past his mask and betray him but being in no doubt that he was failing miserably.

Castiel took a step closer to Dean, his face crunched up in thought and wringing his hands, as though he was trying to think of a right way to answer to this. His eyes were darting away from Dean's again. Dean could swear he almost looked scared or sad or something in between. He had seen his friend in all sorts of emotional disarray before but this seemed different. He seemed conflicted beyond words. But … Oh! Dean had seen that look before. The one where Castiel contemplated whether to go with the truth or tell a white lie in an effort to spare his friend the pain of the truth.

Dean curled his hands into fists; ready for the fight should Castiel dare to feed him some bullshit, because he would not take it. But silently he prayed that his friend would at least give him the due respect and go with the truth. After everything they have been through Cas owed him that much.

"Cas!" Dean said again, not even trying to hide the irritation in his voice. To Dean's relief Castiel turned his head and Dean was stunned into silence by the piercing blue eyes he had so come to associate with his friend. His stomach twisted in a painful knot and he could feel his throat constricting at the thought that this might possibly be one of the last times he would look into them.

"Dean." Castiel said, his voice deep and gravely. "Me being a celestial being and forever tied to heaven as such, my best guess would be that I will either merely stop to exist or be sucked back into heaven with the rest of the angels when the gates close." He stated matter of factly like they were talking about the weather. But Dean knew the angel, was able to read him so well after all these years. He could make out the hint of pain that hid behind the monotonous intonation of the words crystal clear.

Dean sucked in a breath. Thankful for Cas trusting him with the likely truth while simultaneously feeling like the wind had been knocked out of him. Really, Cas was just confirming his own conclusions he had come to during many a painful nights of lying awake, mind working overtime, trying to find a way to safe his friend. To end this any other way, and coming up short every time.

Unable to sit still any longer, Dean got up off the bed, shaking his head and clenching his fists so tight he was sure his nails would pierce the skin and draw blood. But the pain was a welcomed distraction to the assault of emotions he was currently experiencing. He started to pace frantically in the small space that was his room. He felt like a caged animal and just wanted to tear something apart. Preferably all of heaven and hell's hosts combined. Hearing Castiel say what he had suspected all along just made this whole situation that much more tangible, real and hopeless.

"No!" he yelled more to himself than to Castiel. "There has to be another way, damn it!"

"Dean" Castiel said voice gone soft and lower in register than it normally was, full of concern for his friend. "We have talked about this before. We have to do this. I … have to do this. If I manage to close the gates of heaven it will give you and Sam a fighting chance to find the second half of the other tablet and finish the last trial and close hell forever."

Dean stopped pacing and turned around, green eyes meeting blue, alight with fury and the pain of the impending threat of loss.

"At what price, though Cas? At what price?" he spat out, trying desperately to hang on to the last shreds of his composure which was failing him fast.

"Why does it have to be us that get handed the short end of the stick time and time again? Haven't we done our duty over and over? Hell, we even died to save this godforsaken place! Is it too much to ask to just have something for ourselves for once?!" Dean didn't even really know what he was actually referring to. Just this all had been building up over months, possibly years, and he just needed his pain to end, just for a while. Was that too much to ask for?

"Dean. If there was any other way, you know I would take it. I looked, I searched but the way things stand now there is nothing else we can do. We have to do this while we still have the chance before Naomi and Crowley find us. You know time is running out." Castiel looked at Dean pleadingly, brows furrowed, like he needed Dean to understand.

"I am fully aware of the price I might have to pay and I would be lying if I'd say I am not apprehensive about what tomorrow could bring. But …" Castiel paused to suck in a breath before continuing, clearly trying to choose his words carefully.

"I've had a long life, if you can call it that. I was there at the beginning of time, I glimpsed eternity, and maybe all things must end eventually. Maybe it is just my time to go. Maybe that was part of god's plan when he created me. In a way it would give my existence purpose."

Castiel sounded so certain, like indeed this would be the epitome of his existence, but still all Dean could do was shake his head defiantly. If the situation would have been any less dire he would have been tempted to put his fingers in his ears and shout "lalalala" at Castiel. He did not want to hear this. Did not want to hear Castiel rationalize this and hated the fact that every single word Castiel had said made perfect sense in a twisted kind of way.

"Dean, please … don't make this any harder on me … us. We really have no other choice left. You know that."

Dean was reminded of something he had said a long time ago when they were faced with a similar hopeless situation.

"No, we always have choices Cas! We choose our own actions, and damn it! Maybe for once we should just think of us and let the world look after itself," he barked at Castiel.

"I know you don't mean that!" Cas said voice all but gone quiet, tinged with a hint of indignation, his face falling back into that angelic blank expression.

"No, of course I frigging don't!" Dean screamed in frustration. "But maybe I should. Maybe I should just tell you that I don't want you to do this, that I don't … that I will… I just…! DAMN!" he punched the wall, needing the pain to distract him, because he could feel the first signs of tears, the telltale stinging and wetness pooling in his eyes. Everything inside him felt raw, stripped and worn down by years of fighting and watching his friends and family die and feeling utterly and desperately alone.

Castiel! The one constant in his life in spite of everything they have been through. The one he prayed to in time of need, the one who despite bad choices and unfortunate turns of events he would never turn away from, could never turn away from even if he tried. He was not ready to lose him.

Dean could feel his emotions welling up with renewed force. They were tearing through him like a hurricane, taking him apart molecule by molecule from the inside. He knew he would be unable to hold it in much longer. There were so many things he still wanted to say to his friend, 'I will miss you', 'I don't think I can carry on without you', 'I need you.' (I love you). But that was all too much for him to say as he looked back at Castiel and his body started to shiver from being wound so tight.

"Fuck this!" Dean shouted and his fist hit the wall again, breaking the plaster. This time he could feel the bones crack and howled out at the pain, cursing under his breath. Dean was still focusing on the pain when he felt his hand being moved and gently placed into Castiel's own. His breath hitched at the contact and he just froze.

Castiel traced his thumb tenderly over Dean's bleeding knuckles.

"Dean, don't do this to yourself. Please." Castiel beseeched, pleading as much with his voice as with his eyes. "I need to know that you're going to be ok when I'm gone."

"Ok? OK?" Dean screeched making his own ears ring. "I don't even know what that even means anymore. How can I ever be ok again once you're …" Dean broke mid-sentence. His life long aversion to talking about anything remotely to do with feelings so ingrained in him.

The next thing Dean knew was that he was yelling.

"Don't you dare leave me you sonofabitch!"

He tried to wriggle his hand out of Castiel's grasp. He needed to be angry, he could do angry, angry was familiar.

"Dean, please!" Castiel implored, holding on slightly too tight to Dean's sore hand, the jolt of pain snapping Dean out of his fit.

"Please, talk to me!" Castiel fixed Dean with his blue eyes. "You taught me about what it is like to be more human, and isn't sharing what weighs on us part of this also?"

"I just…" Dean had lost the battle with his self-control and was starting to sob for real now, taking in big gulps of air while trying not to let the tears fall. Eyes trained on the spot where Castiel was holding his hand, still caressing his knuckles. And when had he started to shake?

"Please!" Castiel requested again, this time with more urgency and piercing Dean to the wall with his gaze, as though he was trying to look right into Dean's soul.

"Damn it Cas! … You know I'm not good with words! Don't make me say it." Dean pleaded in a pained voice, stripped bare, open for Castiel to read like a book, broken.

He noticed the way Castiel looked at him change in a heartbeat. His eyes searching Dean's own. Cleary what he had just said seemed to have affected Castiel deeply.

"I know!" Castiel whispered softly and wrecked after a moment.

Dean shoulder's sagged in relief, as he could feel all the fight go out of his body. Two words had apparently been all it took. Their eyes stayed glued to each other. A multitude of silent conversations passing between them in those looks, like it had so often in the past. Even though there was nothing to really smile about, Dean could feel his mouth curl up into the smallest of smiles and he could see Castiel was mirroring his expression. The both knew that even without actual words something had been brought out into the open just then. Something neither of them had ever been able or brave enough to address.

'He knows', Dean let those words echo around in his head. But how could he when Dean himself had tried so hard not to 'know', not to admit any of it. He searched Castiel's eyes for a sign of exactly what and how much it was he 'knew', not willing to break the silence with any words.

It was Castiel who eventually spoke, after what felt like an eternity but couldn't have been more than a few minutes.

"Do you trust me?" He simply stated before closing any remaining personal space that had been between them. Dean didn't trust his mouth to work so he nodded his head. For whatever reason he did trust Castiel completely.

"Please let me. I want to … Let me show you…" Dean was confused, what could Castiel have to show him? But instead of questioning the angel he nodded his head again. Castiel put his hand against Dean's temple and Dean allowed himself to lean into the touch.

One second he felt Castiel's warm palm against the side of his head, the next everything went white.

Dean came round to the quiet chirping of birds and the gentle rustling of leaves. He had to squint for a second to adjust to the bright light of the sun that was putting everything around him in a warm yellow fuzzy glow. The air smelt of pine and wood and Dean took in a deep inhale through his nose, enjoying its crispy freshness. Despite the heat of the sun the air had a definite chill to it and judging by the slight discolouring of the leaves Dean would say that it was early autumn.

Where was he? He took in his surroundings more closely and noticed that he was at the back of a cabin, surrounded by forest, a trail leading away from the house down to where he assumed a road was. He became aware of an axe in his hand and on looking down saw a block of wood in front of him ready to be chopped. Without sparing the axe a second thought he dropped it and walked around the side of the cabin to the front.

He stopped dead in his tracks at the sight he was met with. Out in front he could see his baby. It looked brand new and was shining and glittering in the sunlight He walked up to it, smiling, letting his fingers slide over exterior of his car. The metal was warm to the touch. Someone (he) obviously took great care of it, he noticed with satisfaction.

Further down a winding path that led away from the front of the cabin he could make out the outline of a small lake. And now that he knew he could taste the tang of its water in the air, mixed with all the other smells and flavours around him.

This place looked eerily familiar but different nonetheless to someplace he vaguely remembered. It was a place of peace, a refuge, and Dean had to admit that if he was ever to settle down somewhere it would be in a place like this. Surrounded by nature, away from the stresses of his everyday life. He let his shoulders relax and took in another big breath of fresh air, as he closed his eyes, letting the warm rays caress his skin.

The rumbling of an engine growing closer drew him out of his reverie and he turned and saw a truck approach on the dusty trail that ran through the forest down to the cabin. His smile grew wider. He didn't know why but it was like he knew who was approaching in the car and he instinctively brought up his hand in a welcoming wave. He watched the truck pull up and park next to his baby and the first thing that came barrelling out of the back was a massive golden retriever who beelined straight for Dean and almost knocked him over in his enthusiasm to greet him.

"Hey buddy" Dean said ruffling the dog's ears. He had never really been a dog's person, definitely not since the whole hellhound thing, but this dog seemed to know him well and he couldn't help the feeling that he was really fond of it.

"Hello Dean!" an all too familiar voice exclaimed in greeting and Dean's head shot up and couldn't hide the grin threatening to split his face in two at seeing Castiel, dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt and wrestling with about 6 bags of shopping in his arms.

"CASTIEL!" Dean called out, almost tripping over the name, which earned him a confused smirk.

"That is my name." Castiel stated with that dry wit of his. "Although it's been a while since you said it quite like that."

Castiel had such a warm and open expression on his face that Dean couldn't help but feel drawn to it. On instinct he stepped closer to the man in front of him, like he belonged there.

Castiel smiled fondly at Dean before he let his gaze wander past the house to where the back was. "Did you finish chopping the wood? The forecast says there is a storm front coming and we need to get the wood stored before the rain hits."

"Erm… wood?" Dean asked before her remembered the axe and the wood. "No, not quite, I thought I take a break and take in the scenery."

Castiel laughed, carefree and happy, Dean could not remember having seen him like this before, and it was an infectious laugh in which Dean heartily joined in. "Yes, the view just doesn't get old, does it?" Castiel placed the bags at the bottom of the steps that lead up to the front door and walked up to Dean, placing a peck on his cheek before turning him slightly back towards facing the lake and pulling him into a tender embrace., Dean's back was flush against his chest and Castiel wrapped his arms around Dean's waist as they both stared out into the distance.

And oh, it felt so good, so right. Dean just wanted to sink into the embrace and couldn't think of a single reason not to, so he did, letting his body relaxed into Castiel's. He had a feeling that they had done this before by the way their bodies were moving in sync and slotting together perfectly, although he couldn't really remember, so he decided to go with his gut feeling. He let his head fall back and rested it against Castiel's shoulder just breathing in his scent and feeling more at peace than he could ever remember. He turned his face slightly and let his eyes wander up Castiel's neck, past his mouth, so perfectly framed by dark stubble, past his nose to those beautiful blue eyes that were currently looking off into the distance towards the lake and up the his temple, and …

"Cas!" Dean called out detaching himself from his shoulder and turning around, looking at him properly for the first time. "You're hair is going grey!"

Cas chuckled. "I know, you told me so before and no, I still am not going to dye it."

"No… I mean… why? Does that mean you're aging?"

"Dean," Cas said softly, placing a hand on Dean's shoulder. "Well, it was what we agreed on. Back when heaven released me onto earth to be with you. We decided that I should allow my vessel to grow old naturally so that we can … how did you put it … grow old and wrinkly together" Castiel offered in terms of an explanation before suddenly looking wistful and adding, "I hope you haven't changed your mind on that."

"Oh…" Dean was not sure what to say to that. "Wait… Does that mean you have lost your angel powers?"

Castiel smiled fondly and placed another gentle peck on Dean's temple. "What is it with the 20 questions today, are you sure you're feeling ok my love?"

"I… what?..." My love? Are they? Wow, he had a feeling they were and it made his stomach give an excited jolt. And, did he feel ok? Dean really didn't have to think about that at all as every fibre in his body was telling him that he had never felt better.

"Yeah, I actually do! I just …, I think I'm having one of those days, where I have trouble to believe that this is all real. So please tell me. Everything." Even if this might not be real, it felt real and Dean wanted to savour ever second of it.

"Ok. It's not like I could ever refuse you anything." Castiel chuckled. "I still have my mojo, as you always so fittingly refer to it. But, remember, when we made the deal with heaven for me to be placed on earth permanently, after we stopped Lucifer from rising, I had to swear to not ever use my powers. If I do I would be pulled back to heaven and have to face the consequences. A small price to pay for being with you!" he added after a moment of wistful silence.

"Wow, so we actually stopped Lucifer from rising?" Dean kind of felt like his head was hurting with all this information but it didn't matter. This was good news. It meant Sammy never got locked up in the cage.

"Yes, we made it just in time to stop the last seal from breaking, and heaven took care of the rest."

"And here? The house? Is it?" Dean had so many questions and his brain was doing some serious acrobatics trying to keep up.

"You chose this spot. Said it reminded you of a place you used to know. We built this cabin together. It took us almost two years to finish it. But we did a darn good job if I might say so!"

Dean turned his face slightly and took his time taking in the cabin in all its beauty. It was a one storey building. Judging by the size Dean would guess that it has at least three bedrooms, ample living space and a sizeable kitchen.

"It's perfect" was all he was able to say.

"Yes it is. And it's ours!" Cas agreed.

"Now as much as I enjoy our little trip down memory lane, we have to get on with things. Our guests will probably arrive any minute and I still haven't even put away the shopping and you have some wood to chop." Castiel nudged Dean's shoulder with his own and looking so happy that Dean could burst open himself with happiness.

As on queue they could hear a noise in the distance growing closer and swirls of dust being thrown up into the air. Apparently it hadn't rained in a while so Dean was sure the impending rain was a welcome occurrence. "What did I tell you! You should know your brother is always one time!" Castiel chuckled, walking to the front door and starting to bring the bags inside.

"Sam!" Dean exclaimed. He suddenly couldn't wait to see him. He watched the car approach, until it came to a stop in front of the Impala and all six feet and four inches of his brother extracted themselves from the car and he started waving at him. Before Dean could even say anything the passenger side opened and a woman, probably in her thirties with long dark hair and a beautiful smile got out followed by the opening of the backdoor. Out popped a little boy, no older than 3 or 4.

"Uncle Dean!" the boy shouted excitedly and ran straight up to him and up into his arms.

"Hey kiddo!" Dean said laughing at the exuberance of youth as he suddenly had an armful of kid to deal with. Wow, he was an uncle and Sam! He had found someone to settle down and start a family with and Dean really felt at the verge of exploding now, he felt so happy for him.

"Hey Dean!" Sam and his girl greeted him. Dean had a feeling he should know the name of Sam's other half but like everything else his mind was a bit muddy today. So instead he just flashed them one of his killer smiles.

"Where's that angel of yours?" Sam asked, holding a bag of something in his hand. "As requested I brought the 'special ingredient' which apparently you don't get in this part of the woods for whatever concoction it is that he has planned on serving up tonight."

The woman next to Sam chuckled. "I still don't quite get why you both have to call Cas your Angel all the time."

Dean and Sam rolled their eyes and shared a knowing look. Yes, there were some things that were better not shared with the world at large. And speak of the devil, or in this case angel, Castiel appeared at the door walking straight up to Sam and pulling him into a big hug before doing the same with Sam's girlfriend/wife? He definitely has learned a thing or two about hugging Dean noted to himself.

"Come on, let's get inside and put your stuff away. The guest room is all ready for you. And Dean…" Castiel fixed him with a mock contentious look, "… still has some chopping to do." Castiel lifted his eyes up to the sky where dark clouds were approaching fast.

"Ok, ok… going! Dean huffed. "Care to give me a hand Sammy?"

"Give me a minute, gotta bring the luggage in first." Sam laughed, ribbing Dean in the ribs before adding." Dude, you're so whipped!" Dean rolled his eyes and gave Sam a good shove and a "shut up" for good measure. But he kind of had a feeling Sam was right.

Before Dean knew how it happened the scene changed and he was in bed, curled up under the blankets eyes closed, and he felt like he had just woken up. There was a comfortable warmth of another body next to him. He reluctantly opened his eyes. The room was illuminated by a soft glowing light coming from the side of the bed. He turned his face and smiled. Castiel was there, looking tired but relaxed, wearing an old fashioned light blue button up pyjama and pair of reading glasses (and owning the look if Dean might say so), and leafing through a book. From this close Dean could make out the lines around his eyes, they had definitely increased in size and number but it looked good on Castiel.

"Hi!" he croaked, his voice still raw from sleep.

Castiel put the book down and turned to look at Dean.

"Hi" he smiled letting his finger trace the outline of Dean's stubbled jaw. "I hope I didn't wake you? Just I couldn't sleep so I decided to read for a bit."

"No, it's alright," Dean rubbed his eyes and stretched out the kinks in his neck. "So you need to sleep?"

"Yes not as much as you do but the cells in my body need to regenerate just like yours."

"I like your lines." Dean whispered allowing his fingers to trace the small creases along the outline of Castiel's eyes.

Dean could swear Castiel was glowing lightly as he leaned into Dean's touch and his smile literally lit up his face.

"Good! Because you know there is no going back for me now. This body is going to get old just like yours."

"'S only fair." Dean chuckled. "Couldn't have you still looking like this when I'm old and have a beer belly the size of Texas."

Castiel laughed heartily at that which made his face crinkle up and display those small lines and wrinkles most beautifully, still framed by the set of glasses on his nose. To Dean he looked perfect in that moment.

"Is it weird?" Dean said out loud, although he was more wondering this to himself.

"What?" Castiel asked, rising an eyebrow at him. Apparently Dean had piqued his curiosity.

"I don't know, being human while not being human I guess."

"It's different from what I used to know, it makes me more vulnerable I guess but I also have all these new experiences. Living life in a straight line, beginning to end, that took some getting used to."

"I bet," Dean mumbled his head now resting against Castiel's chest, rising and falling in sync with his breathing.

"Is it worth it?" he whispered not quite willing to raise his eyes out of fear to see something he won't like in them.

"Dean, look at me." Castiel said lifting Dean's face up and tilting it so their eyes would meet. "Yes, it is. You are!" he simply said, tracing Dean's lips with his thumb and then leaning in to place a gentle closed mouth kiss to them before pulling back and going back to stroking Dean's jaw and neck.

Dean closed his eyes and let his face fall back against Castiel's chest, resting his face in the crook of his neck.

"I'm happy." he muttered into Castiel's skin as he brought his hands up to wrap around Castiel's chest and pull them together until their bodies were flush against each other.

"I know, so am I." Castiel whispered against Dean's ear, the slight exhale of air against his skin making Dean shudder.

Castiel took off his glasses with his free hand and put them on the top of his night stand before turning off the reading lamp and turning back over, moulding himself against Dean and intertwining their hands.

"Let's try to get some more sleep, my love" he said, kissing the top of Dean's head and Dean suddenly felt so tired, he could feel his eyes flutter close. He felt so warm, and at peace, so he let the sleep claim him.

Everything flashed white again and Dean found himself back in his room, Castiel still touching his temple with the palm of his hand.

"What just happened?" Dean asked, unable to stop a stray tear from rolling down his cheek.

Castiel moved his hand gently down from Dean's temple letting his thumb brush along the jaw before bringing it up and wiping the tear away.

"It's what we could have had …, if things would have gone differently." Castiel's blue eyes were boring into Dean's. Dean couldn't help but tremble at the intensity of Castiel's gaze.

"Like … in a different reality?" He eventually rasped out when his brain had caught up with what Castiel had just said.

"Yes. Although this here and now is our reality, the only one we will ever know, me being an angel, I can get a glimpse of the multitude of alternate realities each and every one of our actions would have created. It's like a veil, almost real but not quite and…" Castiel stopped to clear his throat and Dean suddenly felt hot and cold at the same time as Castiel's stare changed in intensity again, and Dean was sure he could just drown in those blue eyes suddenly alive and full of emotions, regret being paramount among them.

"Why show me now?" Dean asked, not sure whether he was starting to feel angry at Castiel for showing this other reality to him only to snatch it away again or to be eternally grateful for giving him this memory, something he might cling on to in the dark and lonely nights that were sure to come.

It must have shown in Dean's face because for a second he thought Castiel would pull away, a gut reaction based on the angel's intuition before Castiel steadied himself with a deep breath and closed the space between them again.

"I … I just needed you to see … wanted to give you something good to remember me by …and, like you I am not good with words. And I just need you to know that I … I would have chosen all of this with you, or however much you would have been able to give to me!"

And Dean could have sworn that Castiel was close to tears at that point, although he had no idea if angels actually could cry. The truth of his words was evident in the ache of his voice with which they had been spoken. And at that exact moment the dam inside of Dean broke. To hell with the world, society and their narrow minded and stereotypical view on sexuality. Damn his own hang-ups and freak-outs about and denial of his feelings for Castiel. Because right here and now he just knew. Well he had for a while really, but now he was able to face it. That here in front of him was the person he was in love with, had been for longer than he dared to admit.

Dean suddenly realised that he had gripped tight onto Castiel's shoulders, fingers digging hard into the flesh covered by the familiar trench coat, and also that along with his own breathing Castiel's had sped up too. Dean could hear the blood pumping in his ears. He was ready to take that leap of faith as he looked into Castiel's eyes and saw the same longing in them. He held his breath in anticipation as he pulled Castiel in by his shoulders and placed the gentlest of pecks onto his lips, the memory of the dream pecks and kisses still fresh in his mind, and revelled in the tremble he could feel go through Castiel before withdrawing and resting their foreheads together.

"Cas" he rasped before letting out a noise somewhere between a sob and a laugh. He felt like the weight of a millions years had suddenly lifted off his shoulders. They stayed like that, eyes closed letting their breaths intermingle, their hands fisted in each others shirts, as though they were scared the other one would disappear if they let go.

Dean closed the distance for another kiss, this time being a bit more certain and demanding in the press of his lips against Castiel's and before long Castiel reciprocated, one hand coming up and resting on the back of Dean's head to pull him in closer.

"Dean" Castiel said breathing hard and laboured into the kiss before moving away enough to be able to look into Dean's eyes. He looked confused but also dazed and hungry.

"I … I always assumed you didn't want that kind of relationship with another male and … well, my vessel is male, there is no doubt about that. I don't want you to do anything you don't want to… I have always been perfectly happy to just share our special connection in a purely platonic way and our bond is …"

Castiel didn't get a chance to finish his sentence as Dean leaned in again, letting his lips brush against Castiel's with renewed fervour, tongue joining in after a moment licking against the seam of Castiel's lips asking for entry. Just as Castiel was relaxing into the kiss and Dean could feel his lips part in submission he pulled away, grinning at Castiel's dumbfounded expression at the sudden loss of contact.

"Any more questions, or is that a sufficient answer?" Dean growled, trying to keep his own breathlessness out of his voice, raising his eyebrows as he stared into Castiel's blue eyes, as though he was challenging him. Now that he had crossed that line with Castiel, finally admitted what he really felt for him, he knew he wasn't turning back.

And if it was indeed a challenge in Dean's eyes, Castiel seemed to have taken him up on it as he abruptly and without warning grabbed Dean by the shoulders and pushed him back until he hit the wall, pressing his own body into Dean's and placing his lips back over Dean's with an intensity like his life depended on it.

It took Dean but a second to find his bearings and then he grabbed Castiel by the back of the head, moving him slightly to be able to deepen the kiss. Not asking for permission this time his tongue pressed against Castiel's lips and then past them into Castiel's mouth where he licked against the teeth before plunging in deeper and meeting Castiel' own tongue. A spark of electricity shot through Dean at the contact, his body being flooded by an almost unbearable heat and need. He could feel Castiel's body quiver in response, his breathing becoming erratic and then Castiel's tongue started moving with enthusiasm against Dean's, his hands moving from the shoulders to fist themselves in Dean's shirt.

They let their passion take over and guide them. Putting everything they had and never been able to say into the kiss and grabbing at clothing and hair frantically, trying to pull each other in closer, like they wanted to crawl into each others skin.

Dean was still pushed hard against the wall, Castiel's body covering him like a blanket. Without breaking the kiss he grabbed Castiel around the waist and pushed back against him. His head was swimming and things had gone hazy but he had a vague idea of where his bed had to be located and he wanted nothing more than to push Castiel down against the mattress covering him, kissing him, finding out what makes Castiel tick.

Castiel let himself be moved by Dean without protest and they were half falling half stepping backwards, not paying the slightest bit of attention were they were going.

Castiel's legs hit the back of the bed faster than Dean had anticipated and they buckled and Castiel fell back and onto the bed. Dean stood stock still, just looking at Castiel, taking in his flushed features, swollen lips and zoned out smile as he looked up at him.

For a second it felt like the spell that had surrounded them would be broken as they both struggled to catch their breath, suddenly scared to move.

Castiel pulled himself back up into sitting, letting his eyes roam freely and appreciatively over Dean's face and body. Dean could feel himself heat up, a flush working its way from his chest past his neck up to his face. He could not remember every having felt so vulnerable but equally turned on as he did in that moment.

"Dean!" Castiel rasped out, reverently almost begging, like the name was sacred to him. He held out his hand for Dean to take as he spoke again. "Lie with me."

Dean could feel his eyebrows shoot up into his hairline, his already hard cock giving an excited twitch in anticipation. "What, like in the biblical sense?"

Castiel smiled at that. "If that is what you want, or … we could just lie here."

Did Dean want that? If the electric storm that was raging through his body, setting every nerve ending in his body on fire, the answer would have to be an emphatic 'hell yes'.

"Cas…." Dean let out a breathy moan as he extended his hand and took hold of Castiel's, letting himself be pulled in and down until he was straddling Castiel's lap. He could feel Castiel's own arousal pressing hard into his groin.

"Oh god, …" Dean growled, looking at Cas with lust blown eyes, just watching Cas, taking in every feature of his face.

"I can assure you that my father has nothing to do with this." Castiel said dryly, giving Dean one of those looks and oh god, Dean laughed, needing the distraction to get rid of some of his nervous energy or we would combust within minutes. Feeling Castiel's hot warm body against and under him like that drove him absolutely crazy. Castiel joined in with a chuckle of his own, looking almost as carefree as Dean remembered from the dream they shared just a few minutes ago.

"Oh Cas." Dean rested his head against Castiel's shoulder, trying to catch his breath. Feeling Castiel's warm skin against his own brought the incessant need back to touch Castiel, to feel him, to taste him. Dean turned his head enough to be able to start licking and sucking down the side of Castiel's neck. Castiel tipped his head back to give Dean more access and Dean attached his mouth and started to suck and nip at the skin, drawing blood up to the surface under the skin.

He could feel Castiel's hand finding their way under his shirt and only then noticed that they were still fully clothed.

"Can I?" Dean asked as he pulled himself up, looking into Castiel's eyes and tugging at his trench coat. Castiel seemed to have lost the ability to talk; instead he nodded his head and watched Dean's hands as they started to slip his trench coat off his shoulders. Next Dean slowly undid Castiel's tie, then teasingly pulling it out from under the collar of the shirt and throwing it across the room. Then he went to work on the buttons of Castiel's shirt. He let the shirt fall open and just stilled, admiring Castiel's bare chest.

"So beautiful," he groaned as he admired Castiel, watching his chest rise and fall in quick succession. "Wanted this for such a long time…"

"Dean please!" Castiel moaned and ground his hips up into Dean's.

"What do you want?" Dean huffed out breathlessly.

"Just to feel you" Castiel begged as his hands frantically scrambled at Dean's shirt trying to get them up and over his head.

"Hold on." Dean took over from Castiel and grabbed the shirts and pulled them off, discarding them onto the floor next to the bed. Castiel was already pulling him in again, pressing their bare chests together and Dean could feel his body heat radiating into his own.

He nudged Cas' shoulder, indicating for him to lie back, as he himself stood up and quickly removed his shoes and jeans, leaving his boxer briefs on. Castiel was scrambling further onto the bed, just watching Dean as he stripped down. He seemed unable to remove his eyes, eating him up with his gaze and Dean had never felt this wanted by anyone.

Dean crawled onto the bed and towards Castiel, straddling him again at the waist. Castiel reached up with his arms pulling Dean in and covering his face and jaw with little kisses before coming to rest on Dean's mouth and pushing his tongue deep inside, groaning sinfully as their tongues intertwined.

Already their bodies started to move against each other, hips raising and falling. Dean could feel Castiel copying his own movements, bringing some much needed friction with it.

"Dean! I … it feels … I don't know what to do." Castiel moaned.

"Sh, it's alright." Dean whispered, detaching himself from Castiel's mouth and letting his tongue travel downwards over Castiel's jaw, down his neck towards his collar bone and down his chest until it reached the right nipple, which he took into his mouth and suckled on it.

Castiel almost lifted them off the bed he was thrusting up into Dean so hard.

"Cas, just go with what feels good" Dean moaned, as he continued to lick along the nipple while grinding his hips down. Castiel opened his legs and one of Dean's legs slipped between them, bringing their crotches and erections closer together.

"Dean, please…" Castiel begged again, rutting against Dean's leg.

"Hold on," Dean panted and sat up for a moment. He was already getting close and from what he could tell so was Castiel and he still had his trousers on.

"Let me take these off" he said to which Castiel nodded frantically, already lifting his hips up in preparation for Dean to pull off his trousers. Dean chuckled at how eager Castiel seemed but who was he to talk as he himself did not want to wait a minute longer to feel all of Castiel.

Dean quickly unbuckled the belt and popped the button before doing just that, taking his boxers with them and removing his own boxer briefs and throwing everything haphazardly around him. He stalled, looking at all of Castiel, his shirt still slung loosely around his upper body, framing that beautiful chest and those perky nipples and then down towards where his cock was standing rock hard, leaking precum and Dean couldn't wait any longer. He slid back over Castiel, nudged his legs apart further and fitted himself between them until they were perfectly aligned.

He started to move against Castiel, placing a hand around Castiel's waist, urging him on to do the same. Apparently, Castiel didn't need telling twice as he ground back hard against Dean immediately, while letting one of his hands wander across Dean's chest up towards his shoulder where he fitted his hand into the scar of his mark he had left on Dean all these years ago. It fit perfectly.

"Dean," he whimpered.

"Oh god Cas," Dean's skin was on fire from where the hand was touching his scar, heat radiating from it and through his arm and chest, sending a tremor down his spine.

Dean knew he was getting close to coming, already he could feel his muscles tighten, that telltale tingle in his belly and toes curling. But he wanted to make sure Cas would come first. He wanted to see the expression on the angel's face as he would bring him to what he assumed would be his first climax.

Dean started kissing Castiel again with renewed zeal while bringing his hand between them wrapping them around both their cocks and starting to pump them vigorously, going with what experience he had from jacking himself off. It felt interesting, touching another man's cock. But if there had been even a hint of apprehension there it disappeared the minute Castiel moaned into his mouth and jerked his hips up and thrusted into Dean's hand. It felt too good to be anything but right.

"Oh god Dean!" Castiel cried out as he went rigid before coming suddenly and violently all over Dean's hand and between them and the choice of words didn't escape Dean. If he had had any coherency left, he would have loved to remind Castiel that his 'father' had nothing to do with this! But as it was, all Dean could do was watch with rapture as Castiel's face contorted from almost painful to blissed out as the full effect of his orgasm hit him. It was one of the most dazzling things he had ever seen. And just for a second, he could have sworn Castiel's skin radiated, a warm glow working its way under the surface. It was mesmerising.

Dean continued to jack them, wanting nothing more than to feel his own release now, while trying to draw every last drop and shudder out from Castiel's body. It hit him a few strokes later, balls drawing tight before releasing his load, mixing it with Castiel's all over his hand and their stomachs. Dean spasmed so hard he could not uphold the movement of his hand but suddenly, he felt Castiel's around his, moving both their hands in sync and stroking him through his orgasm, milking him until it started to get painful and Dean slumped against Castiel's body, spent and boneless.

They did not talk afterwards. It was like they had said it all. There would have been nothing that words could have added that they hadn't already said with their actions and in the way they still clung to one another. Anyway words would never be enough to define what there was between them, Dean was certain of that. They just bathed in each other's presence, allowing themselves to just be. And, for a moment Dean felt totally at peace, like he was where he belonged. And without quite understanding how, he knew that Castiel felt the same way.

They were still messy and sticky, but neither was bothered enough to get up and do something about it. Once he was able to move again, Dean moved them enough to be able to pull up the blanket to cover them. They just held each other tight, kissing and touching. Sometimes lazy and slow then turning more fiery and desperate, like they wanted to experience a lifetime worth of this in the short amount of time they had.

Eventually Dean could feel himself grow so tired that he could not keep his eyes open any longer and he could feel himself drift off. "Cas," he moaned, holding on tight to the angel. "I … I don't want to let you go."

"Dean." Castiel replied and Dean could feel his head being lifted and pulled in for a soft but desperate kiss. When they broke apart Dean was looking at Castiel through his half lidded eyes.

"I know!" Castiel said softly. " And I don't want to give you up either. I will not go anywhere until the time has come. And I promise you, regardless what will happen tomorrow, as long as even the smallest part of me still exists somewhere, I will find my way back to you."

And Dean believed him, he really did. Hell, they have beaten the odds and death over and over again. And if anyone would be able to fight his way back even from the brink of extinction it would be Castiel.

"You better!" were the last words that escaped Dean before he rested his head against Castiel's chest, letting the steady beat of his heart lull him into a fitful sleep.

He could see himself sitting at a table with his brother and Castiel, laughing and sharing a drink. A kid and a dog were playing noisily in the background and in the distance he was sure he could hear the thunder of an oncoming storm.