A/N: I haven't really written much from Cas' point of view, and it's a tad out of my comfort zone, so please bear with me! I hope you like it! A huge thanks to those who have read, reviewed, followed, and favorited my work, it means a lot! And as always, I do not own Supernatural, it all belongs to Eric Kripke and co.
Castiel sat alone in the darkness, watching as Dean and Benny slept nearby. It was freezing; typical weather for nighttime in Purgatory, and Cas could see Dean shivering in his sleep, his tattered blanket and clothing doing little to block the penetrating cold. But to risk building a fire would be to post the proverbial warning sign to the creatures lurking in the shadows. A blatant announcement that someone was present, just waiting to be devoured by Leviathan, vampires, werewolves. Cas wished that he could risk a small blaze; it bothered him to see his friend in such a state of discomfort. He, on the other hand, even if he could reap the benefits of the fire's warmth, did not deserve such luxury.
He had started it all. Had opened the gates of Purgatory, had released the Leviathan, had caused the creatures to wreak havoc on Earth. Dick Roman's diabolical (if not, unusual) plan to fatten up the human populous for mass consumption had been Castiel's fault. Bobby's untimely death and Dean's resulting alcoholism? His fault. Sent Dean to this godforsaken land where running and fighting only provided slightly higher odds of survival.
Entirely Castiel's fault.
The angel sighed, rubbing his hands across a face that would have been tired had he been human. He knew that they were only a few hundred miles or so from the portal. Dean would return to his brother, live the life he deserved. Go back to the cross country treks in the Impala, Sam riding shotgun. What was that motto he had heard Dean go on about? Hunting things and saving people? Something along those lines.
But Cas, he didn't deserve happiness, or whatever few human emotions he had somehow acquired since meeting up with the Winchesters. Which is why he had absolutely no plans to join Dean and the vampire on the journey home. It pained him greatly to leave his friend. He and Dean had gone through so much in the years since he had rescued him from the pit, had shared the profound bond which still rather confused the hunter to this very day. To leave him behind, knowing that he would never see Dean Winchester again, it bothered the angel greatly. This must be what it feels like to grieve, Cas thought to himself rather bitterly.
"Hey Cas, are you gonna stop staring at me like that? You're giving me the creeps." Dean's tired voice, shaking slightly from shivers, pierced through the stillness, and Cas gave the man one of his half smiles, complete with what Sam had called his "trademark head tilt". Dean was upset, but the angel could also detect a hint of affection in his voice. Perhaps his social skills (though much improved) were lacking those of a human, Dean could always count on Cas to keep watch over him. And for a moment, he considered dropping his plan, of riding topside with him and Benny. He needs someone to watch over him when he returns, Benny will no doubt go his own way, and the Winchesters could always use a little divine intervention every now and then. But he quickly dismissed the thought. You deserve this. You caused this mess, destroyed Dean's world, sent him to this hellhole. This is my penance.
"Cas?" Castiel realized that he had not answered Dean's question. Blinking, the angel quickly returned to reality, watching as Dean sat up a little, huddled in his pathetic excuse for a blanket. "I'm sorry, Dean," he answered in his gravelly monotone, lowering his head slightly. It reminded him of the day he and Dean had first met, when the hunter had summoned him shortly after his resurrection. "I'll refrain from watching you if that makes you more comfortable."
"You really sound like a stalker sometimes, Cas," Dean chided affectionately, lowering himself again and pulling the blanket up to his chin. "One of these days I'm gonna have to teach you a few basic social skills. Like how it's kinda wrong to just stare at people while they sleep." There were a few moments of silence, and Castiel assumed that Dean had fallen asleep. But then, his voice once again interrupted the stillness.
"But you know, Cas, I'm glad you're here."
The gate topside was before them; the creatures who had ambushed them dispatched by Cas himself as Dean had stumbled his way up the rocky embankment. A strong wind bellowed around them, whipping at his dirty, torn trench coat. Dean stood inches from the portal, hands outstretched, waiting. Waiting for the angel to make his way up, to join him. But he couldn't. He had promised himself that he would remain in Purgatory, atoning for his sins. And as much as he dearly wished he could join his friend on his journey back to Earth, Castiel knew that it would be for the best to stay.
"Cas! Damn it, come on!"
Castiel looked at his friend, seeing the anxiety in his green eyes; and once again almost caves. God, if it's this hard for angels to struggle with emotions, it must be ten times harder for humans.
"Come on!" Dean's hand brushed against Castiel's, and he found himself reaching for it, his fingers brushing lightly against his friend's. He can see the hope, the relief on Dean's face, and Castiel knew that if he were human, his heart would have…what was the term? Broken? Not that human hearts could be damaged in that sense. Human figures of speech were something that Cas would still never fully grasp.
"I got you! Hold on!" And Castiel can hear himself calling Dean's name, once again considering abandoning his plan and joining him. But he can't. Closing his eyes, unable to look at the hurt in his friend's face, Cas let go just as Dean disappeared from view. The portal closed with a flash, and Castiel was alone. For a moment, he stared where only moments before, his friend had been standing, calling for him, begging him to come with him, but now was only the rocky cliffs and foliage of Purgatory. A strange moisture was filling up from beneath his eyelids (tears?) and Cas mechanically wiped them away. He couldn't grieve. He wouldn't allow himself to. After all, there was a reason why he chose to remain in Purgatory.
Slowly, the angel turned and walked away, where the creatures of your worst nightmare were waiting.