They buried the woman with as much class as they could in the middle of nowhere. Dean and Sam stood to the side, watching and listening. It was not ideal but Dean realised, while Castiel crouched over her body, that they probably couldn’t have made it any more truly religious, what with having a legitimate ex-angel present and murmuring soft words over her grave. Hopefully, she wouldn’t be punished for something that wasn’t her fault, Dean reasoned to himself.
Throughout the whole process, though, Sam continued to send both Castiel and Dean strange looks, as if he was just waiting for one of them to throw up their hands and explode into words of confession. It didn’t help that Dean kept making half aborted gestures to reach out for Castiel whenever his leg shook or he stumbled over a word. Castiel politely waved him off each time, but Sam’s smug realisation grew deeper with every subtle touch.
Filling in the grave was a lot easier than digging it out, and they were soon ready to move. But before they could, Dean felt that he had to say something to Sam to wipe that expectant look off his face, so he repeated everything Castiel had revealed earlier in the morning with Castiel jumping in where necessary. When Castiel said the word angel, Dean had expected Sam to be as sceptical as he had been but, surprising them both, he just nodded sagely like he had known all along. After that was out of the way, he accepted the story just as easily and reacted very similarly to Dean, minus the kissing. He clapped a hand onto Castiel’s shoulder and called him family, making Dean’s heart clench in a way that was not entirely manly.
Castiel again tried to explain why they now needed to return home but Dean stopped him and lightly touched his hip to steer him towards their rested horse. He told Castiel that he could tell them on the way and ignored the smug look on Sam’s face as he watched them move about.
Now they were galloping across the dry desert wasteland, side by side, Castiel clinging to Dean’s waist tighter than ever before as Sam kept shooting calculating looks behind them.
Sam guessed that they were, with luck, only about a day away from the house at the most. For some reason, they’d been travelling in a wide circle again, almost as though they hadn’t wanted to stray too far from what they still thought as their home.
The motion of riding and the unusual stiff breeze that was in the air today helped keep them awake, holding their fatigue at bay. They allowed the horses to rest every few hours but were soon travelling again as soon as they had been allowed to cool down.
They were an hour or two away from the house, by Dean’s calculations and recognition of specific areas and landmarks, when Castiel leaned forward, rested his chin on Dean’s shoulder and said something that had obviously been on his mind for a while.
“Years ago, I left your father something before I returned to heaven, a blade, a special angel-made blade,” he recalled, breath tickling Dean’s ear.
Dean nodded and kept his eyes fixed on the horizon. “Yeah, he wrote about it in his journal. He said it could kill anything.” Dean wasn’t sure if it was awe or scepticism in his voice so he let Castiel interpret it at his own pace.
“Yes. It’s why I left it with him. I think I knew my time in heaven was growing thin and I most likely broke a few rules by giving it to him. But, when I read through the journal, I noticed that talk of the knife seemed to abruptly stop.”
“I guess. We did try looking for it once we knew it existed but, you know, no luck. I mean, I don’t ever remember seeing it around the house and an angel-made blade, that’s got to be pretty recognisable, right?”
“I suppose it resembles a spike more than it does a knife,” Castiel mused offhandedly, whilst shuffling closer to Dean as the horse hit a burst of speed. “But, reading the journal, I was left with the impression that your father hid it and then due to his drinking simply forgot its existence.”
Dean chuckled dryly. “That doesn’t sound too far-fetched. So you think it’s hidden in the house somewhere, this angel blade that can kill anything?”
“It’s what I’m hoping for, otherwise we’re just going to be walking into his reach without any means of fighting back.”
Dean patted the hand that rested almost shyly on his stomach and for a second Castiel buried his nose into Dean’s shoulder and exhaled in brief relief.
“We’re going to get the son of a bitch, Cas,” Dean assured him with confidence.
“Guys, I think we’ve got company,” Sam cut in with a shaky voice behind them.
All three men twisted around and, sure enough, the skyline behind them was dark and seemed to squirm like a mass of worms in dirt.
“Damn. How many do you think that is?” whined Dean as Sam shook his head and kept nervously glancing back at the sky. He kept expecting to see streams of black smoke erupting from the clouds and start chasing them down. “Hold on, Cas,” he instructed and hunched over the reins, digging his boots in and spurring the horse forward as fast as it could go. Sam did the same, pulling ahead slightly due to the weight difference.
They rode without concern for the horses for a while and soon enough a familiar sight appeared in the distance. But, by then, the storm-like sky had spread over their heads, almost filling the expanse of air ahead.
“We’re going to have to find that knife as quickly as possible. I don’t think they’re going to wait,” wheezed Dean, wind whipping him in the face and Castiel squeezing the air out of his lungs.
The house was closing in when the thick black sky began to stretch down towards the ground. Long tendrils of black smoke moved like limbs out of the sky; spider webbed veins of intricate design swept through the air in angry arcs. The horses darted to the side and avoided them where they could but the movability of incorporeal smoke vastly outweighed that of two laden down horses.
A pillar of smoke swung dangerously close and Dean heard Castiel grunt and edge closer into his back. His hands tightened even further around his waist but it still wasn’t enough. Another sweep and the smoke collided with Castiel. Instead of flowing past like normal smoke, it flickered into solidity and slammed into his side. Castiel tried to hold on but the brute force of the hit sent him tumbling off the horse where he landed harshly with a spray of debris, trying to roll out of harm’s way.
Dean managed to hold on by wrapping the reins around his forearms but he swiftly directed the horse to turn back, once he’d settled on the horse securely again, causing it to whinny in displeasure.
“I’ve got him, Dean” shouted Sam, already curving around and heading back before Dean’s horse could obey.
Like a particularly large and brutal hammer, the smoke focused on Castiel, who curled into a tight ball on the ground, lungs empty from the fall and shock making him unable to fill them again. The smoke continued to slam him into the ground, brutal and relentless, and Dean watched miserably as he rode towards the house, placing all of his leftover hope in Sam.
When Sam moved behind and lined himself up to ride by Castiel, the smoke didn’t scatter like he wanted it to, and instead barraged against him and the horse. Castiel must have heard the clattering of hooves though, because he lifted his head just enough and spotted Sam riding towards him. Still in a protective ball, he raised his hand into the air and, when Sam galloped past, he leant sideways on the horse and grabbed a hold of the offered arm.
Understandably, Castiel yelped at the sudden pull on his shoulder, but despite the obvious pain, he made sure to latch both hands onto Sam’s one so he could drag alongside the horse and wouldn’t get left behind. The rushing ground burned Castiel’s back and side but it was still preferable to the cheap kicks and prods from the smoke.
Sam didn’t have the leverage to pull Castiel up so they rode back towards Dean with Sam almost falling off the horse and Castiel trailing painfully alongside.
The smoke still tried to attack but pulled back slightly when they finally reached the house. It seemed to stop altogether once their horses crossed over onto what was technically Sam and Dean’s land.
Dean sharply pulled up on his reins and jumped off the horse before it was even close to stopping. He stumbled to his knees and immediately climbed to his feet again to help Sam slow his horse. Sam was struggling to think of any possible way of getting off his horse without falling, but in the end, he just let himself slide to the ground, being extra careful not to crush Castiel in the process.
Dust and dirt had turned Castiel’s hair a striking light brown colour and he was coughing up a lungful of muddy mucus by the time Dean got close enough to hook an arm around his chest and lift him onto his feet. More dust billowed off his clothes as he stood.
Sam spared a glance up at the sky and was surprised to see nothing. The sky had returned to its regular brightness and there wasn’t a threatening cloud in sight. When Dean frantically caught his eye, he shrugged, looking just as confused as Sam felt. They both quickly decided it didn’t matter though as long as they were allowed a moment to breathe. Taking an arm each, together, they carried Castiel up onto the porch and into their childhood home.
“Cas, can you walk?” Dean asked as he tried, in vain, to brush the dust out of Castiel’s hair.
“I’m fine,” he replied nodding, while somehow managing to stand vaguely straight on his own two feet.
“Great,” Dean sighed, “because we need to get this place warded. Sam, what are they doing?”
Sam edged over to the main room’s window, pulling back the old moth-eaten curtains that had once belonged to their mother, and peeked outside. He shrugged his shoulders and looked back at Dean in confusion.
“I can’t see them anywhere. Maybe Dad set this place up better than we realised.”
“Let’s hope so,” he agreed before taking a deep breath. “Now Cas says there’s a knife hidden here somewhere and we need to find it. It could be anywhere so I guess we should just split up and search wherever we can think of,” ordered Dean, thinking rapidly as he rubbed his hand up and down Castiel’s back absently.
“His journal was hidden in the wall, Dean, and he hid that when he was sober. If he was drunk, this knife could be anywhere,” Sam reasoned, bringing a bit of realism to their situation.
“I know, Sam, but we need to find it. I think this is it and the knife is the only way we know we can get him for good.”
Sam lifted his eyebrows and shrugged in acceptance. Earlier, Dean had hated Sam’s keen ability to adapt to any situation calmly but right now it was a blessing. Without question, Sam left the room to most likely begin a systematic search of the whole house.
With Sam gone, Dean turned his attention to Castiel and let himself smile briefly at how disordered he looked; everything he was wearing was painted a shade of light brown, angry red scratches lined his arms and smudges of dirt stretched up the side of his face. He eyes were flitting around the walls of the house in barely contained awe.
“I’ve never seen what it looks like inside,” Castiel whispered back as if he was telling Dean a secret.
Fondness flooded Dean’s body as he watched Castiel take in the decrepit mess of a place with such love and he hugged an arm around Castiel’s shoulders, pressing his lips against the other man’s temple. Dean could feel the layer of dirt and grit under his mouth but he didn’t pull away until Castiel spoke again.
“She loved living here. I could see it every time she stepped outside.”
“It’s a bit weird to think of you up there watching over the house for years, Cas,” Dean softly chuckled into Castiel’s hair.
“It’s different. The fire…”
“Dad rebuilt it,” finished Dean. “I think it kept him occupied for a while, you know. So he didn’t have to think about things.” Dean felt Castiel nod his head and he pulled completely away. “You’re sure you're okay, right? Because we need to find this knife before things turn ugly.”
Castiel smiled and attempted to wipe away the dirt he could feel on his face. “I’m fine, just a few scrapes and possible bruised ribs.”
“Good. All right.” Dean glanced around the room, eyes lingering on the cluttered mess that lined every dusty wall. “Let’s turn this house upside down.”
Methodically, they searched every room. They knocked their fists on every panel of wall within reach to listen for that desired hollow echo but were disappointed to hear nothing suspicious. With careful manoeuvring, they tilted heavy objects, such as bookcases and bureaus, on their axis in order to check behind them, but were quickly getting nowhere fast.
Sam was already beginning to lose hope, Dean was becoming angrier by the second and Castiel was simply struggling to stay on his feet while hiding his exhaustion very poorly.
“It’s no good, Dean. It must not be here,” Sam shouted down the stairs to Dean, who was on his knees checking behind a broken square of skirting board.
“Then we’re screwed, Sammy, because we can’t stay hiding in here for the rest of our lives,” he shouted back after he’d pulled away from the dark hole in the wall empty handed.
Dean heard a flurry of heavy footsteps over his head and immediately tensed. The thick air of tension only doubled when Sam hesitantly called down.
“We might not have to worry about that for much longer, Dean. Look out the window.”
Dean’s knees already ached from the riding and his muscles actually quivered when he straightened his legs and approached the closest window in a sort of half-assed hobble. Outside, his eyes were instantly drawn to the figure walking towards the house.
His body looked older than it had the last time they’d crossed paths. Creases lined his face and his skin had the texture of a man who had survived quite a few more years than was strictly healthy. The frail looking body, however, didn’t detract from the obvious evil that it held inside. Who else would be able to dramatically stalk towards their house at a time like this?
Dean felt his limbs freeze, unsure where to go next. He knew it was highly unlikely that yellow eyes would be able to see him from that distance but he still didn’t want to move and risk drawing attention to himself or Sam. Sam, on the other hand, obviously had no similar fears because he stomped down the stairs and, with frantic hand gestures, beckoned Dean over and away from the window. Dean moved to the foot of the stairs only because he knew no better course of action.
“What the hell do we do, Dean? We’ve got nothing. If we can get the opportunity, we might be able to send him back but that’s just going to delay him not kill him.”
Dean rubbed the grit out of his eyes with the heels of his palms and kept quiet. And then, as though he was struggling out of a dream, he lifted his head and sighed.
Sam’s brow furrowed and he looked around their immediate vicinity, shrugging.
“I don’t –”
He paused mid-sentence and Dean glanced up at him, almost too drained and weary to really care. Sam was staring out of the window and Dean’s stomach plummeted as his brain finally caught up with what he’d just said. As if he was on autopilot, he scrambled closer to the window once more and, sure enough, spotted Castiel facing the yellow eyed demon on the threshold of their land.
“That fucker! Why would he do this?” Dean growled and slammed his fist into the window frame.
Sam opened his mouth to say something, anything, to calm Dean down, but he was drowned out by the sound of shattering glass. Both Sam and Dean twirled around to face the source of the noise and were stuck watching helplessly as smoke began to pour into the room, catching scattered pages and cobwebs that then swirled up into the air.
A large, barrel chested man appeared out of the smoke in front of Sam and swung a completely solid fist level with his head. Sam wasn’t expecting such a physical attack and missed his chance to duck out of the way, taking the punch straight to his jaw and stumbling back into the wall, sending a pile of books crashing to the floor. The man fisted Sam’s shirt in his chunky hands and held him against the wall.
Another man, more fat than muscle, materialised in the room, almost melting into being through a small cloud and set his grubby sights on Dean. Instead of physically grabbing him, he settled on tossing Dean backwards like a ragdoll with a wave of his hand. Dean’s spine collided with the window and he felt the frame crack under the sudden strong force. It wasn’t enough to shatter the window but the throw still hurt and he dropped to the floor with a thud.
The muscled man gave a dopey grin, waited until Sam looked at him questioningly and then uppercut him in the stomach. Sam doubled over in pain and gagged at the feeling of having his insides turned to mush.
The fat man, on the other hand, seemed to prefer the less physical approach. He walked backwards, creating distance between himself and Dean’s crumpled body. With a second wave of his hand, he began dragging Dean across the wooden floor.
As Dean allowed himself to be pulled along, he couldn’t help but let his thoughts drift to Castiel standing brave and stupid in front of the yellow eyed demon. He briefly wondered if Castiel was still alive, if he’d remembered that he was no longer an angel and his delicate human skin could be ripped apart quite easily. An image of Castiel lying in a crumpled heap on the dirt outside blended together with Dean’s memories of his father lying, eyes glazed, dead. That coupled with the sound of Sam being bruised and beaten on the other side of the room was almost enough to make Dean go limp and careless.
An elevated floorboard caught the edge of Dean’s shirt and ripped up his side as sharp as a nail. It was then that he had a kind of epiphany.
The floorboards. They’d been on the right track, thinking that their father would have hidden the knife somewhere he would have easy access to in an emergency, they’d just not thought hard enough.
With a burst of hope and adrenaline, Dean fought against the force playfully tugging him across the floor and buried his fingertips into the slightly raised edge of the floorboard that was gouging a line into his shoulder blade. The plank easily flipped out of formation and revealed a square of dark nothingness under the floor. Neither of the demons had noticed Dean’s discovery yet as his body covered the hole from view. A last desperate hope made him cling onto the surrounding floorboards and throw a delving hand inside.
His fingers brushed against something smooth and cold, sending a chilling shiver up his arm, but the force pulling him in the opposite direction was growing stronger. Dean fretted over how to move against it and quickly grabbed the removed plank with the hand that was currently holding him in place. He could hear the meatier demon plugging his fists into Sam’s ribs and stomach and Sam’s answering cries of pain. A bit of payback would be an amazing thing.
Dean readied himself with a breath and rolled over, flinging the floorboard as hard as he could in the direction of the flabby demon. His aim turned out to be better than he’d thought, and the board hit the demon square in the throat, momentum knocking him backwards off his feet.
As a result, the pressure pulling him finally lifted and Dean scrambled to the hole in the floor to sink his arm inside. Cobwebs and other decaying matter ghosted over his arm and it took every scrap of resolve left in Dean not to give into his natural instincts and jerk his investigating hand away. After a moment that stretched on for far too long, but in reality only lasted a few seconds at the most, his fingers finally found the cold object and curled around it, feeling a long sharp edge that made Dean’s heart sing. He could hear the demon wobbling up behind him, having somehow managed to climb back onto his feet once more and Dean didn’t have the patience to wait.
Rolling over again, Dean arched the object in his hand into the space he assumed the demon was going to be; he then couldn’t fight the full body shudder he experienced when he felt resistance against what was evidently the knife in his hand. He heard a hair-raising, crackling noise as his hand vibrated and barely dared to spare a glance at the demon. Curiosity won out in the end.
Through a scowl, Dean saw that the demon’s eyes were pure black but were flickering with a dying light. The body jerked eerily and then fell backwards, letting gravity take over the large mass. The resounding crash he made as he hit the floor caused the other demon to pause, fist still pushing under Sam’s ribs. He slowly turned to look at Dean, who stood up and brandished the blade, hoping that his lack of familiarity with the weapon didn’t overshadow its apparent lethalness.
The demon’s eyes widened comically and before he could even think about flitting away, Dean crossed the room and buried the knife in his back. He would have worried about the sick feeling of pleasure that he felt this time when the blade slid into muscle but, as he watched Sam suck in a breath and flinch away, Dean felt nothing but grim satisfaction. Again, the demon sparked and then dropped to the ground dead. It was all rather anticlimactic.
Sam was breathing shallowly, wincing every now and then, while he stared at the blade in Dean’s apparently capable hands. Castiel had been right when he had described it as being more like a spike than a knife because the blade itself was long enough that it could probably pierce someone straight through with enough force.
“Wow. I wish we’d had this a few years ago. It would have saved us a lot of time and effort,” Dean breathed reverently while Sam nodded in weak agreement.
“Thank God, we’ve got it now though,” said Sam around a groan as he gingerly stepped away from the wall and prodded his ribs.
Dean wiped the blood off the blade onto the side of his shirt, grimacing at the way the blood quickly soaked into the material. “Yeah, thank God,” he repeated. “Now, how about we go and help Cas.”
He immediately looked towards the window and was dismayed to find that he couldn’t see a thing at this angle. Sam’s hand gripped tightly on to his shoulder for balance, causing Dean to spin his head back to his brother, watching as he clumsily stumbled over the demon-free bodies that now littered the floor.
Dean’s fingers involuntarily clenched tighter around Castiel’s knife and he tried to curb the feeling of guilt that flared up when he caught sight of innocent casualties. Castiel still needed their help; he couldn’t let himself get distracted. Acting as an impromptu crutch for Sam, they hobbled out of the room.
A thought nagged Dean as they moved. What if they were already too late?
Sam and Dean stood on the porch of their family home, the home that had been watched by its very own angel for years, and were met with a setup that they never wanted to see again. The yellow eyed demon facing down a member of their family. Dean wasn’t going to let anything happen to Castiel, not if he could do something about it for a change.
The brothers stepped down off the porch and approached the ex-angel and the demon.
Dean could pinpoint the moment exactly when the yellow eyed demon noticed him and Sam moving up behind Castiel because a predatory grin spread across his face and the yellow of his eyes seemed to grow brighter. Rage filled Dean in a way he never knew was possible.
“Bravo, boys, you’re getting better at this,” the bane of their existence praised whilst stuffing his hands into his pockets, probably to stifle the urge to clap sarcastically. “They were two of my most sadistic followers. I’m surprised you managed to deal with them so quickly.” He nodded his head towards Castiel and said, “Feathers and I aren’t done talking yet.”
Dean tore his eyes away from the yellow eyed demon to quickly check Castiel over. He was on his feet, which was a good sign that he was still alive, but he was also standing so remarkably still it even looked out of place on their ex-angel turned priest slash demon hunter. When Dean sought out his unmoving gaze, he noticed that Castiel’s eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed. His face was also a strange hue of pale blue and Dean finally placed what was wrong; his chest wasn’t moving at all.
“He wouldn’t let me speak,” explained the yellow eyed man; his amusement at the situation was obvious.
Dean moved closer to Castiel, panic already seeping in, and settled a comforting hand on the small of his back. Through the material of his shirt, he could feel that he wasn’t breathing and hoped that his presence might keep Castiel from panicking and making things worse. Whispering quietly, Dean said, “Don’t worry, Cas. We’ve got this. Just keep calm.”
Castiel was frozen on the spot thanks to the demon’s unseen grasp but his eyes flickered over to Dean’s in what he hoped meant resigned understanding. Dean made sure to stay close to Castiel as he turned his attention back to the yellow eyed man. He was watching them with a raised eyebrow.
“Well this is unlikely,” he voiced, drawing off what he saw. “He told you what he was then? He told you how he stood around and watched as I killed your mother?”
Dean slid his other hand behind his own back, itching to grab what he knew was there, but forced himself to wait. It wasn’t time yet. The hand on Castiel’s back tightened around material and he waited.
“You know, you almost came close to killing me that day, Angel, and I didn’t like that. You managed to wipe out a lot of my men too before I could get away and you almost got me.” He waved his finger in a mock scold. “Just think, if you had, these boys would still have a father.”
Castiel fought against the hold on him as much as he could but he was already beginning to feel light headed and focusing was too big of an effort for him. Dean kept his hand fisted in his shirt to hold him up and still.
“I kind of wish I’d just done you all in back then. Don’t get me wrong, all this has been very entertaining; it’s just that it’s starting to feel like an obligation to kill you now. It’s been built up too much now, you know?”
The yellow eyed demon closed the gap by taking a few steps closer to Dean and Castiel. The air behind him warped as he moved, like a heat haze. Dean decided that now was as good a time as any.
Lifting his shirt from his back, Dean plucked the Colt out of the waist of his jeans and aimed it at the demon. For a second, he looked surprised, eyeing the Colt in way that suggested he’d expected more, then he just grinned and a throaty chuckle left his mouth. Castiel squirmed again against Dean’s arm.
“Maybe I was wrong about you. Didn’t you learn anything from the last time you tried that, Dean?” He threw his hands out in a way that conveyed complete disappointment.
“I thought I’d give it another go,” snarled Dean.
He tugged on Castiel’s shirt until he was hidden partway behind him and squeezed the trigger. The shot was deafening and both Dean and Castiel flinched at the noise. Smoke lazily drifted out of the end of the barrel during the echoing silence that followed. The bullet had passed clean through the demon’s stomach, leaving a hole in his shirt that was quickly being saturated with blood. He barely flinched and looked down at the hole dispassionately.
“Ooh, unlucky,” the demon gritted his teeth and sucked in a breath. “I really thought you were going to have it that time.” He then snapped his fingers as if saying ‘aw shucks’ and stalked even closer.
Dean glared but quickly became distracted when Castiel dropped limply back into his arms and he was left holding them both up off the ground. Castiel’s face was now almost completely drained of any colour and his eyes were starting to roll up into his head. Dean’s grip on the Colt wavered for a single second and that’s all it took for it to fly out of his hand and into the demon’s.
With both hands now forcibly free, Dean juggled Castiel around until he had a better grip. He shielded Castiel behind his own body as best he could whilst also trying to keep his back away from the approaching demon.
The yellow eyed demon was now close enough for a shot to count as point-blank range and he began to turn the Colt over in his hands, examining every nick and scrape. He slowly and teasingly pulled back the hammer with his thumb, nodding to himself in appreciation. And then, before anyone could blink, he fired a shot into Dean’s shoulder.
Pain flared so sharply that Dean was pretty sure he cracked a tooth from grinding his jaw together. The sudden pain coupled with the fact that he was already buckling under Castiel’s weight sent them both sprawling onto the ground, Dean grunting and Castiel unable to.
Yellow eyes towered over them both and Dean’s uninjured arm was trapped under Castiel’s unconscious weight. Smiling with all his teeth on show, the demon centred the Colt on Castiel.
“I bet you wish you’d never give up those wings now, don’t you? Because now you’re going to die a very human death,” he goaded and his fingers ghosted over the trigger.
Dean closed his eyes, tightened his arm around Castiel, and waited.
A hand suddenly swooped in over the demon’s shoulder and pulled his arm up just in time, causing the bullet to spiral into the air instead of into Castiel’s chest. The yellow eyed demon actually blinked in surprise and then physically shuddered when he spotted Sam out of the corner of his eye, angel blade in hand.
The knife sank into the demon’s back until only the hilt was visible. Sparks exploded and Sam was forced to pull his hand back as a tendril of pure light stretched from the metal and reached out like a claw for him. Resembling lightning, the yellow eyed demon flashed and jerked and then finally went deathly still. There was no fanfare, no celebratory fireworks, just a flash of receding life and then nothing.
As the body dropped, the tension immediately left Castiel and he started gasping frantically as though no amount of oxygen would ever be enough to sate him. He rolled further into Dean and scratched at his shirt front as Dean wrapped his one good arm around his shoulders.
The yellow eyed demon lye still on the ground, the blade stuck out of his back like a flag pole. Sam stood over the body, breathing heavily while his arm stayed raised in the air from the strike. He was, almost strangely, too afraid to pull the blade back out, on the off chance that the demon wasn’t quite dead yet. He could just picture a hand snapping up and locking around his wrist. They’d learnt from that mistake already. He leaned over the body; the bullet Dean had put through the man had left a trail and a hole in his stomach and even that was bleeding heavily.
He was finally dead.
Sam dropped down onto the dirt next to Dean and Castiel and simple stared at the body. Dean was bleeding steadily from the bullet wound in his shoulder but he didn’t care and Castiel wanted nothing more than to curl into Dean and never move again.
No one moved and eventually the sun began to set.
Dean reluctantly opened his eyes and was met by a dirty ceiling riddled with cobwebs and unidentifiable stains. Judging by the strip of sunlight that crossed the floor and the choking heat, it was around midday. He’d slept for longer periods before but he remembered feeling more rested last time. At this point he could have rolled back over and slept for another twelve hours. He was about to try just that when he rolled over and collided with another warm body.
Castiel groaned and blinked blearily at nothing in particular when Dean bumped into his shoulder. He was lying on his back as his ribs were a mottled mess of greens and purples. Complete exhaustion had allowed him to pass out immediately once they’d dropped onto the bed, but now that he was a bit more alert the pain was already beginning to make itself known.
Enjoying the rare quiet moment, Dean curled up on his side, watching as Castiel took in his surroundings and then, with a tilt of his head, settled his gaze on Dean.
“Afternoon,” Dean greeted in a voice quiet enough to be a whisper.
“Hello, Dean,” Castiel replied with a growl, trying to mimic Dean’s level of volume and failing miserably.
“I’d kiss you but I feel gross,” Dean chuckled and then hid a yawn behind the palm of his hand. He immediately grimaced and pulled his hand away from his face, he felt desperately in need of a shave. He could smell a horrible mixture of burnt flesh, sweat and salt. It wasn’t pleasant.
Once they had regained breath and feeling they had climbed to their feet, and had unanimously agreed to burn the yellow eyed demon’s body. With obvious disgust, Sam plucked the blade out of his back and retrieved the Colt from where it had dropped by his feet. After dousing him in what was left of their holy water, they drowned him in salt, wrapped his body in a sheet, and burnt his remains. The smell still lingered around the area and had apparently soaked into Dean’s skin so much that he was almost choking on the scent. Dean was in desperate need of a wash and he didn’t think Castiel would appreciate it if he moved any closer.
“I do not mind, Dean,” Castiel cautiously admitted and Dean smiled.
“Oh, I think you might,” Dean teased but inched closer nonetheless.
He lightly pressed a kiss to Castiel’s lips and quickly pulled away. He felt strangely giddy, lying in bed with someone he actually cared about while the problem his life had revolved around was finally solved. For the first time in a long while, Dean felt like he could finally relax. He could already feel sleep pulling him down again.
“Thank you, Cas, for everything. For looking out for my family even when I couldn’t. I mean it, thank you.”
Dean was vaguely aware that he was slurring slightly as fatigue tripped his tongue, but the gratitude was clearly there anyway. He smiled warmly at Castiel and Castiel responded with a surprised but equally warm look.
“You’re welcome, Dean,” he whispered back finally, dropping his voice to an almost melodic tone.
Dean’s eyes were already slipping closed again and Castiel rolled gingerly onto his side to face him. The position stung at first and caused Castiel to hold his breath but once he had stopped moving, he was pretty sure he could fall asleep like this, as long as Dean was still within reach.