I could probably drag this out for years. John and Mary and the saga de la gay priest – but I'm not going to. Mainly because I have a scary amount of WIP's that need to be tackled – but also, because I think I've said all that needs saying. To that end – here is the last chapter. I have grown fond of my montages.

Dean strides up the short path to his parent's house, for it is most definitely their house, and not his. Not now.

Castiel is back in his apartment, like a precious thing in its battered protective casing. He had wanted to accompany him, but Dean had insisted that Castiel – looking paler and more sickly than he had before, should go to bed and try not to worry.

He had to do this alone anyway.

Sam was at the movies with one of his friends, Dean had paid him off and then taken him to the movie theatre himself, promising to pick him up after. Sam had looked at him for a long moment, shuffling a few crumpled fives into his pocket.

"It's going to be ok, Dean." Sam insisted, with all the optimism of someone who has never had to hide one part of who they are.

"I'll see you later." Dean had muttered, already looking ahead through the glass, hands drumming impatiently on the wheel.

Now, in front of the door, Dean raises his fist and raps on the wood. His stomach swoops with sick nervousness and his palms are already sweating. From inside he hears someone come close to the door, perhaps close enough to see him through the spy hole.

The door remains closed, the figure behind it attempting artful stillness. But Dean can hear them breathing.

"Mom?" he asks quietly.

A soft sound like a stifled sob or a squeak of shock comes through the door.

"Mom, please open the door."

Nothing happens.

"Is Dad there?"

There's a long pause.

"He'll be home soon. I called him."

"Can you at least let me in, so I can explain." Dean rests his fingers on the door, as if by doing that he can will it open.

"I don't want an explanation." Her voice is nervy. "Just tell me...tell me, that what I'm thinking, isn't true."

Dean swallows the acid laced anxiety, feeling it burn his chest and stomach from within.

"I'm...in love with, Castiel, Novak." He says quietly, the words simultaneously sand like and rapturous in his mouth.

Silence greets this proclamation, and Dean allows himself to hope that honesty might have struck a truce between himself and his mother.

"How could you do this?" He voice cracks.

"Mom...this isn't something I did." Dean points out.

"Both of you...he was our friend." His mother insists shakily. "And now he's taken you away from us, away from God and he..." a broken sound drifts through the wood. "He's...corrupting you..." the sound again.

"Mom, please don't cry." Dean murmurs to the polished surface of the painted door. His mother sobs again and he rests his forehead impotently on the wood, unable to offer any kind of comfort from outside of his former home. "Let me in."

"No..." Quavery and unsteady.

"Please." Dean pleads.

If he doubted the possibility of miracles, he is proved wrong. The door snicks open and his mother looks out at him, white faced and red eyed. Dean feels his own eyes burn in sympathetic misery.

"I'm sorry." Is the first thing to fall from his mouth. "I'm so sorry you found out like this."

"You were going to tell us?" Dean hopes he doesn't imagine the lilt of hope to her voice, of trust.

"I'm tired of lying." Dean lets out an unsteady breath. "But I am sorry, I didn't want to hurt you." Anything else is cut off when his mom raises her arms to his shoulders, enfolding him in a limp hug that slowly grows in strength until he's held almost too close to breathe. She pulls back only after a while, face contorted with grief and sadness.

"He was our friend." She says again, the weight of that condemnation dragging it to the ground like a lead weight.

"He loves me." Dean retorts calmly. Because it's true, and he's so tired of knowing it, of feeling it roll off of Cas in waves, and yet having it doubted by everyone else. "And he really does care about you..."

"He's taken our son." Mary cries loudly, voice cutting through Dean like a sharp wire. "He's..." her face twists, fresh tears falling. "...defiled my son."

"Dean, what are you doing here?" John's voice comes from over his shoulder, and Dean turns to face his father.

"I came to...I needed to explain myself."

John looks at him for a long moment.

"I don't want to hear it. And you're upsetting your mother." He steps around him and gently ushers Mary back into the house. He turns on the doorstep and looks down at Dean, eyes hardened with disgust and disbelief. "Don't come here again." He mutters.

And with that, the door to Dean's childhood home is closed in his face.

He picks up Sam, keeping it together long enough to gruffly answer Sam's questions and not break down in front of him. He drops him at the corner of the street, watches Sam walk away, towards the house he isn't welcome in. His only comfort is the slip of paper in Sam's pocket – the paper that has Castiel's address printed on it. Dean's there every weekend anyway.

Sam is old enough to make his own decisions.

The drive to Castiel's apartment is markedly less contained. Dean feels his mouth twist without his consent, misery brimming and subsiding in a dark tide. He gets to Castiel's home, opens the door with his key and shrugs off his jacket.

"Cas?" he calls into the darkness. No lights are on, unusual for the early hour. Dean frowns and hangs his jacket up, walking from the living room into the bedroom, which is also empty and dark.

"Cas?" he calls again, this time an edge of worry in his voice.

A sliver of light shows under the bathroom door.

Dean still has bad dreams (he will not think – nightmares) about finding Castiel, half drowned and half frozen in his bathtub – starved and insensible to his efforts to rouse him. He has awful dreams where he lies next to Castiel's swaddled body for hours, and the man never wakes – instead Dean knows inexplicably that he is in bed with a corpse.

He can't be blamed for the tremble in his hand, the kick to his heart, as he opens the door fully, showing the stark tile of the bathroom and the figure lying out on it, limp and lifeless. There's blood pooled by his hand.

"Cas!" Dean drops to his knees, hands grasping the white shirt and jerking the older man upright, into his arms. "Castiel..."

Blue eyes slide slowly open, looking at him blurrily.

"Dean?"

Dean grabs a towel and moves it to try and staunch Castiel's bleeding wrist, Castiel jerks away.

"Dean..." he catches the fearful look in Dean's eyes, looks again at his bloodied hand, and raises his unharmed hand to Dean's face. "Dean...it's fine, I cut myself, look..." he shows the thin scrape on the web of his thumb. "The cistern...has a jagged pipe."

Dean glares at him, fear and relief mixing to create irritation. "Why are you on the floor?"

Castiel instantly droops back against the wall.

"I think I have stomach flu." He groans unhappily. "I've been in here since I got back...I got tired so I..." he looks slightly embarrassed. "...napped, here."

Dean stares at him a moments longer, then drags him into a hug.

"Oh my God." He sighs to nothing in particular. "Never, scare me like that again."

"I'll try." Castiel wheezes, somewhere near his clavicle.

Dean releases him.

"Ok, let's get you into bed." He sighs, reaching to help Castiel to his feet.

"I'm not a child." The older man insists, but accepts the help graciously enough, moving delicately to the bed in the other room. He allows Dean to divest him of his shirt and pants, and to re-clothe him in his pyjamas. Dean wipes the blood from the cut and checks to make sure that it's closed.

Dean tucks him in and goes to fetch a glass of water and a bucket to place by the bed. When he gets back he feels Castiel's forehead.

"You are warm." He says uncertainly.

"I'll be fine." Castiel insists, weakly. "How are you?"

Dean shakes his head, getting up to remove his own clothes and dress for bed.

"I'm out, as far as they're concerned." He kicks off his jeans. "Out of the closet, out of the church, out of the house..." he strips off his shirt. "Out of their lives." He finishes, sliding into a T-shirt and a new pair of boxers. He slides in beside Castiel's slack form. "Kinda feels like freedom."

"I'm sorry." Castiel murmurs.

"It's them, not you – you were great." Dean smiles slightly. "Sam liked you."

Castiel seems genuinely pleased.

"Anyway – no talking, time for sleep..." Dean nudges Castiel pointedly. "Because you are sick, and you look...disgusting."

Castiel groans in offence.

"Like an extra from Outbreak." Dean continues, settling in for the night. "Besides, you know – everything looks better in the morning."

Everything is not better in the morning. It doesn't even look it, owing in part to Castiel's renewed nausea.

In terms of the actual time it takes for things to be even close to 'better' the effect is actually staggered.

It takes, for example, a week for Castiel to recover from the bug he'd been nursing. A week of Dean trying to keep the stubborn ass in bed and full of fluids (not nearly as fun as it sounded) and a week of Castiel being so weak and sleepy that he got rather into the daily re-runs of Dr. Sexy, much to Dean's amusement.

Another two months and Dean graduates.

Three months until he and Castiel move to a nice, single bedroom apartment close to Sam's campus, just in time for school to start. Dean gets a job as a mechanic, and wonders why the hell he bothered with college if his degree is this worthless. Castiel becomes a produce manager at Wal-Mart and spends every Thursday evening toting discarded vegetables to the soup kitchen three blocks away, and volunteering with the group there. He has, despite himself, not lost all of his desire to do God's work.

A year passes and Dean proposes, they get married a week later – a civil partnership that takes place on a trip to Belgium of all places. They bring back chocolate for both Sam and Father Gabriel – who has remained a somewhat close friend of Castiel and an acquaintance of Dean's.

Two years after that they are invited to the joining of Michael and his partner Adam. In the same year, Sam marries a girl named Jess – at the wedding Dean catches a glimpse of his parents, but they ignore him. Dean is Sam's best man – John and Mary are seated towards the back of the room at Sam's insistence. After all, Dean is not the family member he is ashamed of.

Dean writes to his parents every year. Every Christmas he sends them a card and each time his birthday comes around he sends them a letter with all the news of his new life in it. He refuses to send and re-send the same apology, and so instead he shows them that he and Castiel are happy. That Castiel is a good man and an excellent husband.

It takes five years for them to write back.

But they do.

Dean is the first to acknowledge that some things took time to come full circle.

It was just their nature.