One shot based on this sarasarai . tumblr meta

It's ridiculous that he's back here, Dean thinks as he takes a beer from the ice chest and walks through the main hall of the 'bat cave'. But, when they'd gotten to the morgue, seen that way some guy's vamp girlfriend had ripped him a new one, Sam had gotten this weird look on his face, and said maybe Dean should go back to base and get researching.

He honestly has no idea if it's the Benny thing or just Sam being sketchy, but Dean's not feeling good about it at all. It means that Sam is going to want to talk about stuff later, and Dean's too tired to get into it now. It is way too late in the day for them to start getting into anything like that. He finds the bottle opener and pops the cap off the bottle. He's getting far too old to keep raking over the trash in his head. Whatever's fucked up is gonna have to stay fucked, there's no way to fix it now.

He shoves open the door to his bedroom and almost drops his beer.

Curled up very small on the mattress, both hands tucked up into the sleeves of his dingy coat, is Castiel.

"Cas?" It comes out before he can stop it, but not before he's stood there in silence for a moment, fighting the impulse to sneak out and close the door.

Castiel twitches in his sleep, then jerks awake like Dean's just unloaded a shotgun into the ceiling. His face is patchy with grown out stubble, and he looks a little thinner than normal.

"Don't you dare just fly off," Dean starts.

"I can't." Castiel's eyes go to the door, and he looked pretty pissed at himself for getting caught. He looks up at Dean, backing up into the corner of the bed slowly.

"Right, Naomi's looking for you, right?"

Castiel blinks. "She was here?"

"She paid me a visit, yeah. Let me know what you were up to, which is more than you did."

Castiel doesn't appear to be listening, he's looking at Dean strangely, like he's trying to work something out. At last he says,

"Did she hurt you?"

Dean lets his shoulders slump, he's still mad, mad as hell, point of fact, but he doesn't know with who or what. Maybe it's everything, maybe it's just Cas, but being mad doesn't feel great, and he'd rather shake it off for a while.

"No, she didn't." He looks down at the beer in his hand, holds it out to Cas and waits while Castiel inches forwards and takes it, tipping his head back as he takes a long swallow. "What happened to you?"

"I can't use any power, so, I've been fairly limited in terms of travel, food, accommodation..."

"No kidding, you look like you've spent a week in a flop house."

Castiel considers the beer. "They thought I was a hallucination."

Dean laughs, once, a little bark of sound that surprises him. "Jesus, you couldn't just spring for a motel?"

"That would require money." Castiel cradles the beer in his hands, he looks so worried, so prepared for whatever curses Dean wants to rain down on him, that Dean sighs, sits down on the bed and ignores the fact that Castiel doesn't react in the slightest.

"I know it wasn't you. It was Naomi, it wasn't like you had a choice."

"I had a choice." Castiel addresses the bottle, "As soon as I came back, I should have known that it was them. I should have known that my return was only another punishment."

"You didn't do anything so terrible."

"Samandriel."

Dean swallows, "Yeah, he was actually a pretty cool guy...thought you were great too." He knows that he's hurting Castiel, but, apparently that's all he knows how to do these days. "I don't think he would've held it against you. He was just as scared of Naomi."

"And yet he didn't try to kill me. He didn't take my life, to save himself."

Dean forces himself to move, to turn and look at his friend, who is still staring blankly at a halfway full bottle of beer and who looks like he hasn't slept, bathed or eaten in weeks.

"I shouldn't let her stab me in the heart." Castiel says sharply, not taking his eyes from the peeling label. "I should have done it myself the first time she made me kill you."

The bottle splinters in Castiel's hands, dripping all over the floor. His hand is bloody, and he turns it over dispassionately, wiping the small cuts on his pants.

Dean digests the words, reaches over, then stops.

Castiel curls his fingers over his palm and places his hand under the folds of his coat.

"I only came here because I thought you and Sam were away for a week or so."

"How-"

"Garth told me."

"You stop by to give Kevin the tablet?"

Castiel shoots him a sharp look. "I don't have it with me, and I won't tell you where it is."

"I don't care where it is," Dean stands up and turns to face him. "I don't even care what it says. What I care about is that you went Conspiracy Theory on me and then vanished. I care that Naomi showed up to grill me, and that probably would have been pretty painful – if I'd known anything."

Castiel looks up at him, face tight and set with anger or misery, Dean isn't sure, but he can't stop now.

"I care because the last time you disappeared, you showed up a year later, with a war on your tail. You brushed it off like it didn't even matter and it almost got you killed. Hell, you were worse than dead."

"I know what I did was unforgivable..." Casitel says softly.

"Unforgivable? No," Dean shakes his head, too pissed to pause and think about what's coming out of his mouth. "This. This is unforgivable, you, just sitting there, like some...mental patient, scared out of your mind of big bad sister and me. Scared of me, Cas? I saved a fricking vampire from purgatory, I'm not gonna be the one laying out the law on smart decisions. But you tell me where you are, you tell me when you go, and when you're back? I better be the first one you see. Because we need you. Because I need you."

Castiel just looks at him, like he's trying to see something really clearly, only it's so far away that he doesn't even know what it is yet.

"You know, just once, you could show up and make me listen," Dean says, anger tailing off like a firework in the cold sky. "You could show up, tell me to cut the crap, that you need help. Because I didn't know, OK? I didn't know it was so bad up there, I didn't know, and you didn't tell me, and then you turned into...you turned into someone else, and then you were gone." He feels like someone's ripped the centre out of everything, and he thinks that maybe what he's been carrying around isn't so much anger, as guilt. "You shoulda told me, you should've said something, anything...and I probably wouldn't've been able to help, because you're a multi-dimensional-whatever, and I'm just some guy you probably wish you'd never met, but I would've at least stood beside you. You did that for me remember? Right in front of Lucifer, and I swear you didn't even blink."

Castiel looks at him, and Dean sucks in a breath, tries to unsay everything that's just poured out of him. Only, words don't work like that. And now it's out, it's really out.

"I was terrified." Castiel says, quietly. "And it was stupid, it was Lucifer."

"You think I went there 'cause I thought we were gonna win?" Dean says, "I went there for my brother. Because we're family, and family means that you'd rather die together than live with losing them."

"And we're family?" Castiel says.

"I want us to be," Dean says, "I know that family might be a weird concept for you, and for me come to that. But as much as I have a family, you're in it...if you want to be. I know you don't need me and Sam-"

Castiel looks at him sharply. "I need you."

Dean doesn't meet his eye. "I know sometimes you need our help, and we're never going to say no. We're never going to-" Dean looks up and finds Castiel standing a dead inch from him. He can see every line on Jimmy's skin, but the tired circles, reddened eyes and fading scratches are all Castiel.

"I need you." Casitel says softly.

Dean swallows.

"You." Castiel repeats, barely a sound at all, almost a breath.

"You're still an angel," Dean points out, because Cas will never need him as much as he needs Cas.

"I don't feel like one." Castiel admits, quietly, "I feel...like I need help. Like I want help." It's clearly an effort for him, and for the first time in a while, Dean remembers that windswept guy who'd walked right in under sparks and falling glass, who'd looked so damn big and powerful, and so...calm, so whole, that he'd felt sure that this, this was the moment where something bigger than him, something good, was going to save them. Even if he hadn't wanted to admit it.

He should have known. There are no big things, only small, breakable pieces. He learnt that in Hell, but he'd known that before. Family is, after all, made up of fragile, angry, hurt, needy people – who hold each other up, even when they're falling.

"I need your help," Castiel says, and Dean is only an inch away from him. He wonders why things get more complicated, and somehow simpler, the closer that they get.

The outermost door of the bunker bangs, and Dean almost jumps. He reaches down, and takes Castiel's hand in his.

"I'm gonna start by putting some ice on that."