The End of the World
Long after the beer in their bottles had warmed, long after Sam had excused himself to ‘do some research,’ Dean and Castiel sat at the table in silence. Dean shot furtive glances at Castiel, who had taken to rubbing his thumb around the opening of his bottle.
The silence was deafening.
“It wouldn’t be the end of the world, you know,” Cas said abruptly.
Dean blinked. After today, Cas could be referring to just about anything.
“My death,” Cas continued, thumb moving in slow, methodical circles around the top, “It wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
“Cas…” Dean’s voice was rough, thick with worry. He’d heard enough of what the angel, and Lily, for that matter, had said to him. Not to mention nobody could hold a self-grudge quite as well as the angel.
“You saw how today went,” Castiel continued evenly, “You almost died. Again. Because of me.”
“Pretty sure you weren’t the one coming at me with an angel blade,” Dean replied, weakly trying (and failing) to interject a tone of humor.
Cas scoffed. “It doesn’t change the fact it was my mistake that dragged you into the mess to begin with. It was my mistake Lily Sunders was dragged into it too and…” he paused, thumb on the edge of the rim, balancing over a precipice it seemed. Cas sighed, his hand fell away from the bottle. “Perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst thing for you if I was gone.”
The floor seemed to fall away and Dean had to stifle a gasp. He’d spent most of his time nursing a not-so-subtle anger at Cas and when Cas had returned it, Dean had taken that as a sign that Cas was fine. And yeah, Cas offering to let Lily take him down would have been worrisome, but Cas was smart, he was kind, he was just saying what she needed to hear…wasn’t he?
Castiel proffered a small smile, looking up at Dean at last. “At least you wouldn’t have to worry about my stupid ideas anymore, right?"
It’s said with some humor, like Cas expects Dean to agree and smile right alongside him. Dean just felt sick to his stomach. Taking a shaky breath, Dean stood. Made his way to Cas. Knelt at the angel’s feet, anchoring himself by putting both hands on Cas’ knees as he looked into the angel–his angel’s eyes.
"I would never recover.”
Cas blinked. “What?”
“If you die, man. I…I wouldn’t recover.”
Castiel sat frozen in place, his hand still next to the empty beer bottle.
“It might not be the end of the world, but it would be the end of my world. Cas, I had to face that today, with the banishing symbol and you have no idea–” Dean was breathless now, trying to say the things he could rarely bring himself to even admit, “I know the angels say we treat you bad. And I–I do and I’m sorry, man, but I can’t lose you. Not again.”
Hanging his head, Dean tried to say the other things, the other, far more secret words. The sort of words that the angels would likely claim corrupted Castiel beyond repair. So he wouldn’t say them. He couldn’t. A silent I love you was all he could give Cas.
But as he struggled, a strange thing happened. The faintest of touches on his hands. Dean looked down, really looked, to see Castiel’s hands hovering over his own. They locked eyes. Castiel let his hands drop firmly atop Dean’s.
“You’re worth falling for, you know.”
I love you too.