A/N: This is my first posted SPN fic! I've been in the fandom since May 2014, but I've never made more than a couple half-hearted attempts before, and I wanted to fix that before the show ended, so I've been rewatching all of Cas's eps for ideas (and also just to enjoy his journey one last time before the end). I thought I'd end up doing something for 12x12 because that is my FAVORITE Cas whump ep, but I guess 13x01 hit me a lot harder this time around cause in a few months Cas could be dead for real, so this happened instead. I hope I got the characterizations right!
I should move him.
The darkness of the night pressed in on Dean where he knelt beside Cas's limp body. It weighed on him more than any apocalypse or curse ever had, threatening to crush him, driving any scrap of strength he had left out of his bones. And yet, somehow, despite all of that, he could still see the shadow of Cas's wings. His tattered, broken wings, burned into the gravel where he had fallen.
A breeze cut through the air, ice cold and chilling Dean to the bone. He shivered, wondered if angels got cold, and shuddered at the implication of the thought. "All right, Cas, let's get you inside."
His voice came out steadier than he had expected, as if having something to do gave him strength. Maybe he couldn't save Cas, couldn't erase the image of the light spilling from his startled eyes and open mouth and impaled chest, but he could sure as hell take care of his body. He could get him off the ground, get him inside, cover him up. It was far, far less than he deserved, but it would be a better spot for him to rest until… until they could make a pyre.
He slipped his arms underneath Cas, under his shoulders and his knees. His head lolled at the movement, and for one split, irrational second, Dean hoped he was waking up. He had been dead before, after all, in bloodier ways than this, and God- Chuck- whatever the hell his name was had brought him back. But when Dean picked him up, his arm slid off his torso, his fingers scraping against the gravel before Dean could finish standing, and the spark of hope died as quickly as it was born.
In the spark's absence, any strength the purpose gave him nearly vanished, destroyed by one simple observation: He was lighter than Dean had expected.
Cas wasn't small, but he wasn't huge, either. In his years as a hunter, everything he'd killed and everyone lost, Dean had certainly carried larger bodies, his brother's included. But somehow, he had expected Cas's to be the heaviest of them all. Listening to him describe his unfathomable true form, seeing his massive wings at the peak of his strength, knowing the sheer amount of power contained within his deceptively dorky vessel – Dean had expected it all to weigh more.
But that was the problem, wasn't it? All of that was the angel. This body Dean was lifting, while it had never really been James Novak to him, it wasn't Cas. It never had been. Everything that Cas truly was, from the wings he had loved to the powers that had saved countless lives countless times to the innocence and wisdom and ferocity that had become Dean's constant companion – all of that had been burned away by the fatal touch of the angel blade plunged into his back.
All Dean was carrying was an empty vessel.
Cas was gone.
No. No, there has to be a way. There has to be.
It took everything he had to get into the house and lay the body out on the table, and as Dean arranged him into a comfortable position, he couldn't believe Cas was gone. The hands that had healed him countless times, the face that had scrunched up in confusion at so many references, the beige trench coat that he looked damn near naked without. Maybe they had started off belonging to James Novak, but his soul was long, long gone, and this body had been Cas's ever since. And where there was a body, there was always a way.
There had to be.
Draping a sheet over him with trembling hands, Dean didn't know what he would do if there wasn't one.
Castiel, he's dead. All the way dead. Because of you.
Back in the house of death after hunting down Jack, Dean forced himself to pull back the sheet. Cas laid in the exact position he had left him in, and if it weren't for the blood staining his shirt, Dean could almost convince himself he was just sleeping. He could almost believe that, if the kid came bouncing in, he would wake up, bound and determined to fulfill his promise to Kelly and work for that future of sunshine and rainbows the kid had shown him back at the gate to heaven.
Dean squeezed his shoulder, ready to shake him awake.
Even through the trench coat, the suit, and the shirt, he was cold.
Dean let go, jerking away as if he'd been burned, and planted his palms on the table, slumping over Cas's body. "You dumb son of a bitch," he half growled, half rasped. "You dumb, idiotic, moronic son of a bitch. Why did you come through the portal? Why did you go after Lucifer? Why the hell didn't you just move one step away from the damn thing?"
Cas didn't answer, but Dean knew. He had stormed through to protect them, showing up at the last second to save the day like he always did. And he hadn't moved because he felt safe, trusting the Winchesters to keep him safe like they always did. Cas had rebelled against his family, had made deals with the devil, had dropped everything to run to their side so many damn times, even when they didn't want him, even when it got him killed. And in return, he had trusted them at his most vulnerable, when he was broken and betrayed, when he was cursed and wounded, when he was human and terrified.
All he'd gotten for it was evicted from his home, despised by his brothers and sisters, and killed. Not once, not twice, but five times. And this time, it would stick. This time, Dean couldn't pull off a miracle. And he couldn't get God – couldn't get Cas's damn father – to make one happen either. He had begged, begged with every ounce of grief and desperation in his blackened, heavy heart, and it hadn't worked, and Cas's kid, his miracle kid with visions of paradise, couldn't do it either.
"What was the point, Cas?" he asked, looking through tears at the dead angel. "Was there a point? Did you at least get your precious paradise out of this crapshoot?"
He knew that answer, too. He didn't know if angels went back to heaven when they died, but he knew that, even if they did, the other angels sure as hell wouldn't let him stay. After everything he'd lost, everything he'd sacrificed, Cas deserved to go home, to find the paradise his kid had promised, but he never would. He was just gone, the life and light burned out of him, the shell of his vessel left to be taken over by darkness and cold, the two things Cas had spent his last years fighting to escape, fighting to keep from corrupting heaven and humanity and the Winchesters. He was a soldier fighting for paradise, for love, for peace, and his grand reward for it was a cold death.
Dean sucked in a breath, forcing himself to lift his head, looking out the window. There were plenty of trees and plenty of open space. Cas had been trying to build a life here, a beautiful place to raise Jack and keep him safe, but instead, it would serve as a place for his funeral.
His hunter's funeral.
As Dean built the pyre, gathered the salt, poured the gasoline, he clung to what the fire could offer. It would protect him from demons or angels or anything else trying to violate his memory, but more importantly, it would send him off in a blaze of light and warmth. Maybe it would burn away his guilt, his sense of worthlessness, and lead him into that paradise he had died for. Maybe the angels would look down and, for the first time, see not a rebel who brought destruction and chaos, but an angel who just wanted to do the right thing. Maybe Chuck would feel it somehow, and would, for once in his damn life, pay attention to his son when he needed him the most.
But when have we ever been that lucky.
He channeled the bitterness into yanking down the curtains, tearing them apart to tie the sheet around Cas, and this time, when Dean picked him up, he did feel heavy. Heavy with loss, with the dreams that had died with him, with the last shred of hope Dean had ever had that this world could be saved. That it deserved to be saved.
Dean laid Cas out on the pyre, illuminated by the sun's dying light, and backed off, flicking open the lighter.
It wasn't enough. It could never be enough. But it was all he could say. And the fire was all he could offer.
He tossed the lighter and watched the flames envelop his best friend's body.
A/N: I know I'm like 2 years late in finding the vid, but if you're interested, I was watching the fanvid "Dean & Castiel - I want you here [+13x01]" by BlackieSwan pretty much the whole time I was writing this, I highkey recommend it, it's BEAUTIFUL (in the angstiest way possible)