You want a physicist to speak at your funeral.
You want the physicist to talk to your family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and that none dies.
You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neutrons whose energy will go on forever.
You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around.
According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.
The lips of the bottle are cold against Dean’s own. He likes it that way—the ice before the bitter taste and heat. His mouth the gateway between tangible and fantasy where he can pinpoint the spaces to untangle and let go.
It’s a game: Drink. Sink deeper into the motel pillows. Drink again.
It should make Dean’s skin feel less real. It should curb the way his eyes feel dry and heavy. Should lull him into a sense of heady nothingness. But Dean’s stomach churns against the liquid and the mattress is too hard.
“God,” he says, his chest struggling under an unseen weight. It isn’t a prayer or a curse. Instead, it’s a word to try and incinerate the nerves already sparking inside him. Finish the job.
But it isn’t God that answers. It’s Cas, standing like a wall. Strong. Fierce. Not like Dean, who tries to turn away from the angel the moment he appears inside the motel room. It’s Dean who can’t even bring himself to act like he’s ok. He only has enough reserves left now to hide. Only has the strength to close his eyes against the light with force.
And he shivers when Cas’s hand falls on the skin of his arm, holding it tightly.
Dean wonders if Cas can feel his blood move beneath his skin. Wonders if Cas sees any life left in the shell of Dean’s body.
“Dean,” Cas says, and it’s worry. It’s pain. It’s recognition that Dean exists, even if the hunter doesn’t want to be real right now.
Dean wants to look at Cas. He knows the angel has always seen him. And he knows Cas’s soul has spoken to him, too. If only the words could translate. Because maybe Cas could say what Dean needs to hear. Could fill up the empty room with words neither of them ever learned. Words like “hope,” and “safe.”
And Cas’s hand waits. Waits for Dean to allow it.
It takes a long time. It’s reluctant. It’s a fist that sprouts from a tight wad, blooming like a reluctant flower to slowly, lightly touch Cas’s skin back with his own. To give the angel the ok.
It’s brief. It’s shaky. It’s enough.
Dean feels Cas’s heat against his back as the angel lays down behind him. And Cas talks through his fingers, saying the things his mouth can’t. He tells stories with their skin, letting his palms run along Dean’s back and chest and arms. Anywhere he can find to spread his heat like balm.
Then it’s the angel’s mouth against his neck, breathing home into Dean’s spine and hair while Cas’s palm rests lightly on Dean’s stomach, skirting under the hunter’s shirt.
And when he finally feels Cas’s mouth on his back, small kisses through the fabric, the hunter wonders at the need for words at all. Because it isn’t desire, it’s worship. It’s Cas telling him he’s glad Dean’s alive. Glad he’s here.
Dean swallows. He flips onto his back, giving Cas further purchase on his skin. But Cas’s hands have stopped, and part of Dean wants to open his eyes. To see if Cas has left him here to the silence. But he can’t bring his eyes to face the emptiness. And as his skin starts to cool in the wait, he suddenly can’t breathe, Dean’s lungs jolting and shaking while he cuts off his own air supply.
Cas, Dean prays. Cas, touch me. Talk to me.
But the hands don’t return. Instead, Dean is startled when he feels a heavy weight on his chest, right against his heart. He can feel through his shirt where Cas’s ear is pushed up against his skin. Can feel Cas’s tiny breaths of admiration as the angel inhales at the sensation of each heart beat.
The burn inside Dean’s stomach starts to subside and his hand makes his way into Cas’s hair, resting his fingers in between patches of it. Neither of them move except to breathe. Dean doesn’t open his eyes. No one speaks.
But Dean can hear Cas anyway, telling him all the things he needs to fill the silence. And suddenly maybe, just maybe, Dean thinks he might know what hope feels like.
“It’s easier not to say anything. Shut your trap, button your lip, can it. All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. Nobody really wants to hear what you have to say.”