That’s blood soaking through the front of the trenchcoat, that’s blood trickling down his face and yeah, that’s Dean’s angel, limp and broken on the floor.
God damn it, this isn’t how reunions are supposed to go.
“No, no, no, no,” Dean snarls, and he’s kneeling on the ground beside him, gathering Cas’s still form into his arms. “Cas. Cas!”
You didn’t come all this way just to die in my arms, you idiot angel, he thinks furiously, you open your damn eyes, open them now. “Cas!”
It might be a miracle; Cas’s eyes flicker open.
“Dean,” he says, and he sounds faintly surprised and mildly pleased and as though he’s not at all concerned about about the way his vessel is leaking blood all over Dean’s jacket.
He’s still wearing those filthy scrubs, he still has the beginnings of a beard. He looks just as he did the last time he slipped through Dean’s fingers. “You found me.”
“Yeah, I found you,” says Dean, and he closes his own eyes. He feels, all at once, very tired. He tugs Cas closer, places a hand on the back of his head. That’s blood there, too. “Wish I found you in better condition, though.”
It’s not fair, it’s not supposed to happen this way, he’s supposed to be getting his angel back this time, not losing him all over again.
“What’s the matter?” asks Cas quietly. He reaches up and Dean just stares at him, mystified, until he touches Dean’s cheek and Dean realizes that it’s because he’s crying, those are tears on Cas’s fingers. Dean’s tears. “Is something wrong?”
Dean tries to blink those awful, mortifying tears away. “No, Cas,” he chokes out. “I just missed you, that’s all.”
“Oh,” says Cas, and his eyes flutter shut again. “I dreamed of you, Dean.”
“Angels don’t dream, Cas,” Dean tells him hoarsely. Cas huffs, and Dean can feel his breath against his own cheek.
“I’m not an angel anymore,” Cas says. He says it with no trace of bitterness, just impossible weariness, and Dean’s stupid, traitor heart, it just breaks in half.
“Yeah, you are,” Dean says, fierce and certain. If nothing else, he’s sure of this. “You’ll always be my angel.”
“But I’m not,” Cas argues, always stubborn, always so literal. “That’s the reason why I’m dying.”
“Nope,” Dean says, no no no. He can’t bear to acknowledge it but Cas is probably right, damn it, so he leans forward and rests his forehead against Cas’s. “Not this time. Not this way.”
“I don’t think there’s another option,” Cas says peaceably. He coughs, and yeah, that’s blood on the corner of his mouth, so Dean carefully wipes it away with his thumb; he’ll go on ignoring the obvious as long as he can. “You should go, Dean.”
“You’re the stupidest angel I ever met,” Dean tells him, his voice cracking. “I’m not going anywhere. Not without you. And you’re not going anywhere, either, you hear me? You think I’m gonna let you go now, after I worked so hard to get you back?”
Dean’s hands feel warm and slick, and he knows it’s blood, Cas is bleeding out, Cas is dying quietly next to Dean on the floor; Dean is always fucking losing him and he doesn’t know why.
He remembers wondering these past few months if he hadn’t left his heart back in purgatory along with his angel, and now that Cas is here it ought to finally feel whole again, but instead the damned thing’s busted on the floor by his feet, torn to pieces, bleeding out just like Cas.
There’s no coming back from this, no surprise resurrections this time, and Dean knows it.
So Dean clears his throat, plagued by a sudden tightness in his chest that just won’t go away.
“Hey, Cas,” he says quietly. He taps Cas’s cheek until he opens his eyes again, blinking, confused. Cas frowns at him, just like always, and Dean tries to smile. Manages it, a little. Everything’s fine, everything’s just the way it always is.
“I know you haven’t been human very long. But now that you’re one of us - congratulations, by the way - I get to introduce you to all the crazy customs humans have. Like this one. It’s a big one, so listen up, Cas, ‘cause there’s something real important I’ve got to ask you, okay?”
He rocks Cas in his arms, just a little bit.
“When you -” and he can barely get the words out, his chest aches so -“love someone, and when you realize how much it sucks to not have them around, and when you miss them like crazy when they flutter off without any warning, and even when that someone is a dick angel who never gets your jokes and doesn’t appreciate your taste in music, well, you still love them anyway, and when you love them like that, you ask them a question. And I’m so selfish, I know, Cas, but I want you, okay?”
He presses his face into Cas’s hair, drops a light kiss on his head. Runs a hand up and down Cas’s arm. Cas breaths slowly.
“I want you to say screw you to heaven. I want you to be around all the time. If I’m going to spend every night the rest of my life sleeping in shitty motel rooms, then I want you right there with me. Shotgun’s taken, but there’s a back seat with your name written on it. I want you to stay right here, here with me, and this is gonna sound so stupid, Cas, but I want you to marry me, okay?”
And Cas just gives him a barely-there smile, but a very real one, and asks quietly, “Am I in heaven?”
And Dean loses it.
“No, you’re not in heaven, you son of a bitch,” Dean snaps. “If we were in heaven, I’d probably be doing this the right way. Flowers, champagne, the works. But I don’t give a crap about heaven. I told you, Cas, I want you right here on earth. With me. So will you marry me or not?”
And Cas just gives him that look. Dean never understood what it meant, before, but now it’s obvious, laughingly so. It’s love, pure and simple, written all over Cas’s face.
“Of course,” Cas says, and sighs. Blood trickles down the corner of his mouth.
“Good,” says Dean, his voice cracking, and he leans forward and rests his forehead against Cas’s, and more of those awful tears slip out somehow and land on Cas’s eyes, cheeks, lips. “So don’t go, Cas. Please.”
It’s what he should have said after Stull.
It’s what he should have said in that not-quite angel-proof library.
Yeah, he should have said it a long, long time ago.
The blood’s still there, and Cas is quiet.
“I wish I’d asked you sooner,” Dean tells him, and isn’t that the truth, but losing Cas is a habit he can’t seem to break.
This isn’t how reunions are supposed to happen.