A body goes limp suddenly, knees giving in under the weight of the collapsing body, eyes widened in shock and surprise. His body touches the ground with an unmistakable force. A soft orange glow coming from the fire near illuminates the body; the fire inside the grave is the only source of light in the dark night. A soft breath is breathed out. Then-
“DEAN!” the voice of Sam Winchester screams in complete agony. The man drops near the limp body, voice thick with panic. He knows that voice. He certainly knows that name. Sam heaves his brother up in his arms, shaking him violently but all that movement does is shaking Dean’s head loosely because his neck has no strength in it left. Surely enough, though Sam Winchester must’ve only heard a soft rustle of wings, He can see an angel appearing next to him.
“Cas?” Sam says out of breath. His brows are knitted together in the concentration of holding his brother in his arms. He holds two fingers to Dean’s pulse but to no surprise, there is nothing to feel.
“I was looking for you but couldn’t find you, until I heard your voice,” says Castiel, his own voice dark and worried. He kneels next to Sam, “What happened?” He asks.
“I don’t know. We were hunting a ghost. Burned it. Next thing I know-” he casts his eyes down, tears visible in his eyes. Cas’ white, too soft fingers lightly touch Dean’s temple. Sam can now evidently see the worry in the angel’s blue eyes. This is not the first time he wonders how much the angel really cares for his brother.
However, this is the first time he sees the blue eyes glistening with tears of sorrow. Cas is frowning and his lips are pressed into a hard line. He softly places the palm of his hand on Dean’s cheek, but still nothing happens. Dean’s eyes are still closed, his body stays limp. Cas casts a worried look at Sam.
“No,” the larger Winchester man softly whispers when he sees the look in the angel’s eyes. He had come to trust that whatever happened, Cas would be there to make sure Dean or he didn’t die. How could Dean die? On a simple hunt like this?
“He is too far gone,” Cas says, an edge of something Sam can’t place noticeable in his low voice.
“Fix it Cas. I don’t care how much it’ll cost me.”
“It won’t cost you anything,” the angel murmurs. “I will get him back, for both of us.” He stands up.
“How, Cas? How are you gonna fix this with no cost? Why?”
“This is Dean.” It is said in a matter of fact tone, as if nothing else matters. This is Dean, and no matter what it will cost Castiel, it doesn’t matter.
“Close your eyes Sam. I will get him back.” Sam does what he is told, closing his eyes, even shielding them with his arm while bending away. He can still see the bright light of Cas, though. When he opens his eyes, he has been left with his brother’s body.
When Cas arrives in heaven he stretches out his grace to find what he is looking for and softly touches the energy he wanted to find. Dean is, indeed, not yet completely in heaven. When Cas changed some things, he made sure anyone left with any doubt about where they belong stayed out of Crowley’s grasp and instead were send to something you could describe as a front door in heaven, where Cas can judge them. To see if they belong here, or downstairs.
So Cas spreads his wings softly and doesn’t land until he can already see the soul of Dean. That one time Castiel had seen Dean’s soul, the hunter had been in hell. Castiel had Dean’s pure soul in his hands and from that moment, he knew what Dean was worth. He had never, not in all his years, anticipated how far his bond with Dean Winchester could stretch.
His feet touch the floor softly, no sound made. Dean does not entirely look like his soul when it’s in the body he has on earth. His soul is so pure. It would’ve taken Castiel´s breath away if he needed breath in his true form.
When Dean awakes out of a state of unawareness, he is confused. He is not where he had been just minutes ago. There is a lot of light. His head feels fuzzy. Except ‘feeling’ is not the right word.
Dean the voice echoes through his head, but he recognizes it. He is suddenly aware of the presence near him. It is Cas. He knows its Cas. But not Cas. It’s Castiel- In his true form. Wings and all. Amazing size. He had not been lying when he had told Dean about his true form.
“Cas?” He answers, “You were not kidding about your size, were you?” A ring of one of those laughs he does not hear often goes through his head. Cas looks amazing.
You are worried? the voice asks. Dean has no idea. He says nothing.
I am here to get you it’s not the voice of his vessel. Not as dark. But it is amazing. It feels amazing. It rings slightly, high. Cas looks so beautiful. It’s different. Cas looks nothing like the man he is on earth. In fact, he looks nothing like a man. He looks like an angel. Wait.
“Damnit Cas, Where the fuck am I?”
You died the voice tells him, But I am here to get you.
“Get me?” Deans asks.
“Take you to your brother. Do you trust me?” Dean doesn’t have to think about that. Of course he does. This is Cas.
So the form of the angel spreads its enormous wings and Dean braces himself. But when they touch him, it is in the gentlest manner Dean could’ve imagined; they are almost stroking his soul. When he reaches Cas, he feels the feeling of warmth rush over him. Like when you go outside in the middle of the winter and almost freeze to death and then take a warm bath after.
I have to take your soul into my grace Cas tells him. And that’s what happens. A light blazes around Dean. The wings cradling him light up. From black to pure white. He feels the slight pressure they have put onto his soul lift until he feels like he is floating in the brightest light imaginable. He feels different immediately. Castiel is around him. He feels him reaching into the depths of his soul, plucking every little bit of wrong away. Every little bit of sorrow. Every ounce of hurt. Castiel is so gentle; Dean almost can’t feel his touches. It feels so amazing. So intimate. There’s nothing he can compare it too, because it’s a feeling on itself and a feeling that can’t even been felt properly.
Even though Dean has never seen Castiel´s true form, he recognizes him. He can feel its Cas even though he sees nothing but energy and feels nothing but feather light touches into his soul. It’s still Cas. His Cas. It’s been his Cas for a while now, Dean understands that now.
We’re almost done, Dean the sound of Cas´ celestial voice tells him and Dean is almost disappointed, except he can’t reach that exact feeling, not without his body. A feeling of soft feathers stroking the skin of his soul reaches through to him and Dean can feel the intimate touch of reassurance. There’s no need for Cas to be gentle. It would probably be faster if he wasn’t. But he is, and it’s for Dean.
He can slowly feel his soul drifting from Cas´ grace. He is floating still, but not into the space he was. Everything darkens. He can still see the reassuring form of Cas´ grace but the light slowly dies down until everything around him is black.
Suddenly, he can feel the sensation of his soul retaking something that was once his. Slowly he seeps back into the limb body. He can feel the ground pressing into his back. Two arms around his shoulders. He can feel his eyelids pressing shut and his eyelashes ghosting over the skin of his cheekbones. He groans, loudly, breath hitching.
He hears a loud cracking sound and then a soft thud.
Slowly he flutters his eyelids open. Long locks of Sam’s hair are floating above his head. The strong arms of his brother around his shoulders. He is not looking at Dean. A soft worry is etched into his features. When Dean groans again, Sam’s head snaps around and they look into each others eyes.
“Dean.” He says. He smiles, just slightly, but it’s a smile. “You’re alive.” Dean tries to stand and though he’s slightly stiff, he manages with Sam’s help.
“What happened?” he asks his brother. With that question, Sam’s eyes snap back to where he was looking when Dean woke up. Dean follows his line of sight. Cas is on the ground, his knees trembling. There’s a big dent on the path he has landed on, a break in the asphalt. As they are looking, his knees give in and he tumbles to the ground, breathing hard.
Both brothers go to him with a slight run. They kneel next to the angel. Cas is full out. His eyes are closed.
“What happened?” Dean asks again. Sam shakes his head.
“Come on, Dean, let’s get him up. It must have tired him out, whatever he did do you.” Images of light and pure reach through to Dean’s brain and he closes his eyes in reflection to the light.
“Yes.” Together they heave Cas up from the ground -their arms around his limb body - and take him to the impala parked outside the graveyard.
“Put him in the back seat,” Dean says. Sam pushes Cas into Dean’s waiting arms, and Dean supports Cas on his with a grunt. Sam opens the door of the car and together they carefully put Cas in the back.
“I’ll sit with him,” Dean says, taking the keys out of his jeans pocket and throwing them to Sam. “You drive to the motel.” Sam nods and Dean tilts Cas’ head up so he can slide on the seat. He closes the door and has to manoeuvre Cas so he can fit, his legs slightly draping off the seat, his head on Deans lap.
The memories of what happened try to press into Dean’s mind but they’re not as clear as they should be. They’re flashing images of light, of feather, of purity. Dean’s hand somehow finds its way into Cas’ hair, trying to sooth the unconscious man but needing the comfort himself too. Slowly, more and more of the memories of heaven leak into his mind and he can’t forget. He can’t push them away. They are overwhelming and amazing. All he can see when he closes his eyes is Cas and those wings and that light.
They arrive at the motel not much later and together they bring Cas inside and lay him down on Dean’s bed. His trench coat is covered in mud and there’s a little scrape on his cheek.
“I’ll clean him up. I hope he’s ok,” Dean mumbles. Sam walks around the bed and puts his hand lightly on Dean’s shoulder, staring down at his brother.
“You okay Dean? You- died,” he says, worry thick in his voice.
“I’m fine Sammy, Cas did a good job,” Dean tells his brother while he slides the coat off the angels shoulders and down his arms. He folds the coat up, intending to throw it in the washer as soon as he’s done.
“Can you remember anything?” Sam says from the other side of the room, sitting down on the chair there.
“A light,” Dean says with a frown. He can remember more. But those are his memories. He’s not going to tell Sammy those memories. He probably won’t be able to explain it, anyway. “Cas’ grace.” He says finally. He walks towards the little bathroom and comes out with a wet towel.
Cas’ face is peaceful while he sleeps and Dean traces the dirt lines with the towel, turning Cas’ head with a slight touch of his fingers to clean the spot behind his ears. When he accidently, yes, accidently, graces Cas’ cheek with his fingers, he jerks them away when Cas takes a deep breath and his eyes shoot open.
“Wha-” he mumbles, sitting up on the bed. Dean quickly takes a step back so he’s not practically kneeling on the mattress.
Cas’ eyes scan the room in confusion and then land on Dean permanently, staring at the oldest Winchester brother before he realises Dean told him staring is rude and he darts his eyes away, anywhere but Dean. He hears Dean’s low, quiet chuckle.
“Hey there Cas,” he says. Cas blinks in confusion and sits up on the bed, supporting his body weight with his hands.
“Dean,” he says, “What am I doing in your bed?” Dean chuckles again at that, but then his face turns serious.
“You passed out after you brought me back,” Dean tells the confused angel. Castiel tilts his head slightly before starting to move.
“I am sorry for holding you up,” Castiel says, “I should go. I have important things to take care of.” He wants to go without saying another word but that would be rude and Castiel still has the fresh memory of heaven in his mind and he can’t help it but he shivers. He feels it again, the sensation of Dean’s soul.
No, Castiel thinks, he shouldn’t think of Dean like that, not while he is here. Of course, for Dean’s safety, Cas is sure all memories of what surpassed in heaven where quickly wiped from Dean’s memory when they left Cas’ home. It makes him sad to think Dean won’t be able to remember it. Which is the more reason to go, because Cas is not even supposed to feel something like the complete human emotion of sadness. He forces a slight smile at Dean before spreading his wings far out to fly away. He tries hard not to hear the slight gasp from the hunter he leaves in the room but he does and for split second he wonders what that was about before he banishes it from his mind.