He found Dean by the Impala, trying to get a seizing Sam inside.

"Cas, thank god!" he said. "Heal him!"

"I...I can't," he said helplessly.

"Well why the hell not?! Is it because of the trials? Is that something you can't fix?"

He looked so angry. Whether it was because he couldn't heal Sam or because he had been tricked into ruining everything again, let Dean down again, he didn't know. There was nothing he could do to fix it now. "I'm not an angel anymore, Dean. None of us are. Naomi was right. Metatron tricked me. I went up there to find him. Naomi was dead and he stole my grace. It was the final ingredient."

The look on Dean's face now was not the reaction Castiel had expected. Not anger. Worry yes, but almost a sort of awe. He reached for Castiel's face and wiped away... a tear? He was crying?

"Alright, so you're human," said Dean, as if that proved it. Help me get Sam to a hospital.


Dean and Castiel sat outside Sam's makeshift hospital room in the ER. Dean had steepled hands to his face and was jiggling his leg up and down in a nervous manner. Castiel felt more helpless than he ever had. Bereft not only of his grace but of Dean's trust and any shred of hope he held on to. "There's nothing I can ever say that can suffice as an appropriate apology for -"

"You know what just stop," Dean snapped. "I'm done with your apologies. I'm done forgiving you."

Castiel thought that was fair. The sting of tears began to hit his eyes again. These damn human emotions were so much more raw than what he'd felt as an angel.

"But I'm done blaming you too," Dean added.

That caught Castiel off guard.

"Dean why-"

A nurse came out of Sam's room. "Are you family?"

"Yeah, I'm his brother, is he okay?" Dean stood.

"I'm afraid we're still unable to find the cause for his condition. We're moving him to the ICU. We'll let you know when you can come up and see him. "I'm afraid only blood and by-law family members can stay. Is he...?" she indicated Castiel.

"He's uh... He's my civil partner," he took Castiel's hand. "He goes where I go."

The nurse smiled. "Alright, we'll let you know when you can come up."

Dean sat down again, inexplicably still holding Castiel's hand. "Thank you for that," said Castiel. "You had no reason to-"

"Yeah, I did. We're family. The three of us. No matter what any of us do, that doesn't change."

They were silent for a moment. Then Dean said, "Look, I get what you were trying to do. You were tricked. We both were. And I'm sorry that you lost your grace, I really am, but maybe... I dunno... Maybe it's a blessing in disguise."

"How?"

"When you left us to fix things after Lucifer and Michael, when you ate all those souls to try and turn the tide in your war, when Naomi was controlling you, when you went to hide the tablet, and when you were doing those so-called trials; That was all Heaven. All the the things that kept tearing us apart were because of Heaven. Now that you're human you have no reason to leave us."

"But I'm no use to you either."

Dean rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Oh, please don't start that. Look, before Sam collapsed he made something pretty clear to me. He wasn't just willing to die to close the gates of Hell. He thought it wasn't a a huge price to pay because he thought all he did was cause trouble and let me down. I can't let him die thinking that, Cas. I can't. And do you know what the worst part is? I get why he thought that. All those little digs I made, not letting him take on the big responsibilities, not trusting him when I should've because I held grudges. I did the same thing with you. I'm not doing that to either of you anymore, and when Sam wakes up, and he IS going to wake up, the three of us are going to go back to the bunker and be a family. We're gonna make a home. With us and Kevin and Charlie and Garth. We're all gonna have a home. Clean slate. No more lies, no more distrust."

Castiel was smiling now, and it didn't feel like the small restrained smile he gave as an angel. He felt real. Too real and too raw. If this was how keenly humans felt emotion all the time, it was going to take some getting used to. "Thank you, Dean."

"Yeah, well, I never told you how much you mean to me. I never told either of you actually. So every mistake you guys ever made. Well, you might not have made them if I told you how much I... how much I cared about you."

"Excuse me," the nurse said. "You can come and see him now."

"Right," said Dean, taking Cas's hand again. "Come on, hubby."