Darkest of Your Days

"If a great wave shall fall
it'll fall upon us all
and between the sand and stone...
can you make it on your own?
maybe I'll find out
the way to make it back someday...
to watch you, to guide you,
through the darkest of your days."


Author's Notes: This one-shot is an alternate universe version of Song Remains the Same Chapter 20 ('Above Us Only Sky'). This fic contains (tasteful) smut and lots of angsty feels, so… enjoy! :)


Every little decision we ever make affects the outcome of our reality more than we know. A small, seemingly insignificant choice can alter everything. This is one such instance.

In 2009, Sam left his family in an attempt to spare his siblings from his ever-deepening struggle with demon blood. Without their brother, on a desperate mission to find God and stop the oncoming apocalypse, Dean planned to drive himself and his sister all the way to Kansas City in one night. In most other versions of reality, he did. But in this version, he didn't. Instead of driving three hours more, a very tired and emotionally frayed Dean caved to Alex's persistent requests for a stop. Omaha saw the Winchester two check into a motel and fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon. The two woke up the next day to a very different world and a very different time.


August, 2014
Camp Chitaqua, Michigan

"…What was that?" Dean's voice hovered just above a whisper as he swiveled his head to look behind himself. It was hard to see, given that it was the dead of night.

Beside him, Cas had heard it too—a soft and shivering metallic sound, like something or someone was shaking the chain link fence bordering their camp. Cas's hands were already on his assault rifle. His whisper matched Dean's. "Croats?"

Dean shook his head, his steely eyes narrowed and sharply moving over the fence to their left about twenty feet away. He pulled out his pistol slowly, glancing at Cas. "No, we'd hear Croats coming a mile away." He jerked his head to the side. "You go left."

The men broke apart silently and moved in opposite directions, tensed and prepared for anything. These days, you had to be.

The night was cloyingly hot and humid, making Cas's breath come in shorter and shallower. He peered into the darkness, catching sight of a movement in tandem with another telltale shiver of metal. Someone had just somehow slipped in through the chain link fence. He raised his weapon and crept closer. Definitely not Croats… the intruders looked too calm and collected to be Croatoans. He could make out two figures—it looked like a man about Dean's size and a woman. The pair was sneaking toward where Dean's old car was rusted and overgrown with grass. This wasn't good. More and more lurkers and drifters had been passing through trying to steal supplies lately. Cas crept even closer to the intruders with a quickly beating heart. He could make out Dean's familiar figure at his peripheral. The two trespassers were distracted. Good. The bigger one hunched down, examining the Impala. The smaller figure, lingering back near the fence, threw her arms out and hissed something unintelligible, like she was unhappy with whatever her companion was doing. Dean crept closer to the intruder at the car, and when he got up right behind him, he announced himself.

"Hey!"

The guy whirled, got an uppercut to the jaw, and was laid flat out. Immediately, the girl made a move for a weapon and darted forward to attack Dean—and Cas, close enough to intervene without shooting, dashed forward, letting his gun drop to hang from its strap at his side as he knocked the woman over flat onto her back. The force of the tackle sent the knife she'd drawn flying out of her hand harmlessly. Even as Cas snatched up her wrists, he felt her wrestling mightily underneath him. He was surprised at the ferocity and had to double his efforts to hold her down, pinning her wrists down hard above her head and squeezing his thighs together tight, sandwiching her legs to keep her from kneeing him—which she had been trying to do.

"Hold still, Jesus Christ!" Cas exclaimed, exasperated at how wildly she was fighting him. It almost him reminded him of… Cas had an abrupt and jolting thought. Oh god, wait….

Dean shined a flashlight down into the woman's face and she went still momentarily. Both men froze in shock to see that very familiar pretty face staring up at them, the brilliant hazel eyes flashing angrily as she squinted a glare up into the bright light. Losing his grip slightly, gone slack with surprise, Cas's jaw dropped open even as his stomach seemed to fall out of him completely. "A-Alex?"

She didn't recognize him—she probably couldn't see with that light in her eyes. "Get off me!" she roared, yanking a wrist out of his hold on her and punching him in the jaw, grabbing his neck and flipping him off of her before snatching her knife back up as she scrambling to her feet. He just laid there, propped clumsily onto his elbows with a stinging jaw as he stared up at her breathlessly, heart racing, because he never thought this day would actually come, and now looking at her, he was scared shitless. He knew what her reappearance meant and he wasn't ready. He'd spent years knowing this was coming and dreading it, dying for it, worrying about it.

Clueless to Cas's internal thoughts, Alex whirled, knife clenched tightly. She faced down Dean, who was holding out a hand in her direction. He looked positively sickened and dumbfounded, but managed to keep his head on his shoulders. "Whoa, whoa, just take it easy!" he commanded. She froze, squinted at him, looked at the other Dean passed out near her, and then back at the conscious Dean.

"…Dean?"

Her baffled eyes found Cas, surprise alighting for the briefest second. Then it was over: Dean seized the opportunity of her distraction, rushing her and knocking the knife out of her hand then twisting her arm behind her back and whirling her away from himself, putting her in a firm, painful hold. "Who the hell are you?!" he demanded thunderously. "Shapeshifter? Ghoul? Skin walker?" He shook his sister hard and she protested even as Cas finally shot up to his feet.

"Stop, Dean, stop!" He held his hands out. "It's them, it's them!"

Dean stopped, but didn't let go of Alex. "How do you know that? They could be impostors." His steely eyes demanded Cas answer, and now.

"They're not," Cas insisted, voice cracking. He may not have been an angel anymore, but could still sense souls. These weren't impostors. He swallowed deeply and his eyes found Alex again—her fiery expression, tousled brown hair, heaving chest, stony glare—she was extremely pissed about her arm being twisted behind her. She looked a little younger and thinner than she'd been when he last saw her, but it was her. Seeing her again almost made him incapable of speech. A minute ago, he'd been listless and grim, devoid of much feeling whatsoever. Now, he was having to struggle to keep himself together. "W-what year are you from?" Cas asked tremulously. If she said 2009, his theory would be confirmed.

She looked at him almost as if he were a stranger, and it broke his heart. "Two-thousand nine," she replied mistrustfully. Castiel's blood pressure doubled. It felt like all the air had been knocked out of him.

He nodded in hollow disbelief as understanding and dread built on top of frayed nerves. God, how was he supposed to do this? "It's them," he told Dean distractedly. He had to turn away because the pain was surging up and choking his heart, stinging his eyes. He ran his palm downward over his mouth and let it rest on his chin. "You should remember, after all," he added stonily.

Dean looked down at the unconscious version of himself, contemplating before he set his jaw firmly and turned his attention back to Alex. "Okay so if you're really Dean and Alex Winchester from oh-nine, riddle me this," Dean leaned his face closer to Alex from behind where he held her in a tight grip. "What the hell are you two are doing here in twenty-fourteen?" Cas knew that Dean would remember this from his own timeline and was testing her to see if the story matched up.

She spoke through gritted teeth, still trying to escape his iron hold. "Zachariah sent us, he said he wanted us to see where our bad choices would lead us or some crap like that, okay!? Now let—me—go!"

Dean complied roughly, suspicious of her and not hiding it. She gave him an evil eye then picked up her knife angrily and holstered it before going to her unconscious brother and dropping to a knee at his side. Dean and Cas exchanged a tense look as Alex checked over her unconscious brother. Dean silently warned Cas with eyes alone not to say anything to Alex about what they both knew she couldn't learn about. Cas smirked humorlessly. Dean didn't even know the half of it.

Seeming to be satisfied that her brother was okay but pissed all the same, Alex stood up, eyeing both men suspiciously, before turning a mystified look specifically onto Cas. "What... happened to you?" She took in his outfit, hair, beard, and general disarray with something like confusion. Immediately ashamed, Cas lost some confidence. He knew this was a different look on him for this version of Alex. He no longer wore the trench coat and business suit. Instead, he wore hunting boots, faded cargo pants, a military style jacket. His hair was unkempt, he never bothered with shaving anymore—his beard was probably an inch long at this point, and no, he never bothered grooming it anymore.

Cas could feel Dean's warning glare on him. So the ex-angel shook his head and shrugged. "A lot."

Alex made a face and he could almost hear her thinking no kidding. But she let it go, turning her inquisition onto Dean. "Where's Sam in all this? Where am I?"

Dean's expression darkened. Cas looked down and away before she could turn those questioning eyes onto him. "Not here," Dean answered gruffly after a very loaded silence. He didn't leave the door open for anything further. Jabbing a commanding finger out, he pointed at Alex, then Castiel. "Come with us. Cas, you get unconscious me."

Dean led the way to his cabin where Cas propped unconscious-Dean onto the floor and 2014-Dean immediately cuffed him to the metal ladder built into the floor. "Hey, hey! Why you cuffing him?" Alex demanded.

"What, you think I trust myself?" Dean was amused and cynical, approaching his sister casually. "I remember exactly what I was thinking when I first woke up here." Alex's face registered confusion just before Dean's hand shot out and a cuff snapped over her wrist. In flash, Dean manhandled his raging sister to the ladder amidst loud, colorful protests. She yanked her cuffs loudly, rattling metal against metal, fuming. Dean shrugged, appearing quite apathetic. "I don't trust you either."

Alex became resigned but sullen about it, scrutinizing her brother with a disillusioned frown. "What's going on with you?" Her mystification was fading into disappointment. "You seem... different."

"Yeah well I guess the apocalypse just does that to a guy," Dean retorted.

Alex rolled her eyes, looked down, then saw the wedding band on his finger. She did a double take in shock. "Hey wh—are you married?"

Surprised, Dean's face went slack and he looked down at the ring as though he'd forgotten he wore it. His jaw tensed. True emotion showed. Pain. Then he cleared his throat and turned hard on his heel, stalking out of the cabin. "With me, Cas, now." His voice made it clear that disobedience was a bad idea.

Cas looked back at Alex who was more lost by the second and silently asking him for help. He looked away quickly and followed Dean outside, guilt making him sick. They shut the door behind themselves and the second it was shut, Dean rounded on Cas. "Don't say a damn thing to her about anything," he threatened quietly. "It could mess up everything. She shouldn't have seen this—it could change things." He took his wedding ring off, looked at it mournfully, then slipped it into his pocket.

With a heavy sigh, Cas contemplated his companion. "Dean…"

Dean fixed him with a near-glare. "Look man, forget it. This is nuts. I didn't really think this would happen. I remember it happening, vaguely, but from his end, not this end." Dean looked positively overwhelmed and annoyed. "I'll tell Ellen the situation. Don't mess with Alex, okay? In fact, keep your fucking distance. She doesn't need to know about the shit that happens to you and her in this future, got that?"

Cas let out a cynical little huff, eyes dodging away. "Believe me Dean. I know that."

Judgement and disapproval glinted in Dean's eyes. "I bet this is a real wakeup call huh, Cas? I mean what if Alex, the one from our time, could see the chump you became? That Alex in there doesn't have a clue and I don't want her to, you got that? If she could see what you let happen to yourself, to your daughter... what do you think she'd say, man?"

Cas bristled at the mention of Lily. "Dean, how many times have I told you this subject matter is off limits?"

Dean made an ugly face. "Keep on saying it, Cas, but she was my sister. I got every right to hate what you did to her."

Cas struggled not to punch Dean in the face. He ground his teeth together, trying to slow his pounding pulse down. "I really don't appreciate your tone right now," he said darkly.

Dean grew patronizing. "Oh, you don't appreciate my tone. Good for you, Cas. I don't appreciate what you did, any of it—seducing her, getting her pregnant, getting her killed, letting down your little girl… if I didn't love that kid as much as I do, I would've sent you packing a long time ago and you know it too." A long and terrible silence charged between the two angry men before Dean made to turn and leave. "Now get back on patrol before I kick you in the face."

Enraged, Cas grabbed and slammed Dean up against the side of the house. "Watch how you speak to me," he seethed, but received little to no reaction. "You may be Alex's brother but I was her husband, and I'm tired of these pointless arguments about the past!"

Dean stared coldly for a long moment. "You really wanna do this right now?" He was quiet and dangerous, daring Cas to escalate. "Take your hands off me."

Cas gave it a long, furious moment of consideration. Then with a vigorous shove Cas unhappily complied. Eyes devoid of mercy, Dean straightened his jacket with a snap of fabric then headed to Ellen's cabin without even a backwards glance.

Left standing on the porch, Cas stewed in a myriad of negative, jarred feelings. Dean told him to get back on patrol but he couldn't. Not yet. He waited until Dean disappeared, then did what he'd known he'd do from the second he saw Alex today. He went back into the cabin—then stopped with the door halfway open.

Alex had gotten her restrains off with the lock pick she wore around her neck. She was squatted down next to her unconscious brother, fiddling with his cuffs. When Cas opened the door, she stood up fast, startled and appearing ready to bolt or fight. Cas steeled his resolve and shut the door behind himself, holding out a placating hand. "Relax, it's okay." Only, it wasn't. Not at all. Seeing her again in person, alive and well while knowing what laid ahead for her was devastating.

She regarded him warily. Like he was a stranger. "You here to send us back to our year?"

Ah. She thought he still had his powers. Of course she did. It was sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. "Uh, no," he said, so ashamed that his eyes failed to remain on hers. "I can't."

"…Can't?"

He drifted a bit closer, hesitant to look at her but also unable to stop himself from drinking her in glance after uncertain glance. "No battery power." Alex was now within arms reach and looked so beautiful, so real. So full of life. He caught the faintest scent of her shampoo and the scent that was primally her. And everything fell away as Cas began to gaze into her eyes with every bit of longing, desire, and remorse that he felt. Alex grew visibly puzzled and uncomfortable. Cas forced himself to look away.

Now Alex was the one closely studying and taking in subtle details. A funny look crossed her face. "Is that…" she sniffed once, shocked when she made the connection. "Is that absinthe?"

More shame. "Uh, yeah, I might have had some earlier." Cas rubbed the back of his neck absently and cleared his throat as he grew hot with embarrassment. He was painfully lingering on how unkempt he looked and pushed his messy hair to the side, attempting to make himself look even fractionally better.

Alex regarded him intensely. Something like sadness hovered in her hazel eyes. "Cas, what… what happened to you?" Her soft question beckoned his eyes to flicker up and meet hers. God. He felt near tears.

He took a long moment to reply, composing himself in the torturous silence. "I'm… I'm not an angel anymore," he finally told her honestly, then shrugged in forced apathy. He couldn't break down in front of her. "In any sense of the word."

That was the moment when her sharp eyes caught sight of what rested at his upper-center chest, and her expression went slack. Her hand charged out to grab what she saw glinting from the half-unbuttoned gap in his shirt. The brush of her fingers against his skin froze him and made his lungs catch.

"What are you doing with these?" She stared up at him with wide, almost frightened eyes. At the end of the silver chain, her dad's wedding band she used to wear and her old silver whistle. Cas panicked. She wasn't supposed to have seen those.

He swallowed, then with measure he had to dig deep for, he took hold of them and tucked them back into his shirt. "You, uh, you—gave them to me." Which was the truth.

Alex's gaze pierced him. "And why would I do that?"

Cas wet his lips. This wasn't gonna work. But he tried for a lie anyway. "We were… friends?"

He could tell she knew it was a lie but she just made a soft little huff of air and gave him a look that said she'd get to the bottom of it all eventually. He knew that look. He loved that look. His chest constricted and it was a good thing Alex walked off a few steps in aggravation. She missed the mournful, heartfelt way Cas's face gave him away. "Where am I, anyway? Heading up the arts and crafts department?"

Her little joke wounded his already dying heart. Made a soft, broken smile alight on lips that didn't smile much anymore. Cas shouldn't have told her the truth. But this was Alex—and even though at this point she didn't know it, they kept no secrets between them. It was instinct to tell her the truth. "You're not here."

His quiet answer made her stop in place and turn to give him a close look. "Not here at the camp? Or… not here not here?" His flighty eyes slowly raised to hers, and it turned out he didn't even have to reply. She understood. After a quick catalogue of emotion flashed over her face—shock, dismay, grim finality and unsettled quiet. And then a terrible thought occurred to her, sending her voice to a quivering whisper that begged him to assure her that she was wrong. "…Is Sam dead, too?"

Not even thinking, filled with compassion, he took hold of her by the arms—his touch had always calmed her down, centered her, but that had been his Alex. This Alex tensed, mouth dropping open slightly as she stilled. Realizing his mistake but not able to let go, not yet, Cas stared back at her, realized he could see that her pulse had picked up by the fluttering skin at the base of her neck. He had never seen anything more alluring or maddening. It made him snap somewhere deep inside, and realizing he was playing a dangerous game, he realized he couldn't let her walk around. And he couldn't answer these questions for her. In a burst of thoughtless motion, he yanked her lock pick necklace off, breaking it.

"Hey!" Alex protested, then gasped when he manhandled her back to the ladder, snapping the cuffs back on with his face inches from hers. He wanted to kiss her so badly and could barely hold himself back. Struggling against himself, he distanced himself from her as if she were fire. She yanked at her cuffs and looked at him with this wounded, angry, how could you expression.

"Sorry," he said tersely, voice thick. "I can't let you out until Dean says so." He turned around to leave, too shaken up to stay.

"Why?!" she demanded, voice trembling. "What's the big deal? What the hell do you two think I'm gonna do, huh? And why won't you tell me anything?!"

Cas turned around and studied her sadly. He couldn't tell her the whole truth. She wouldn't understand. It would freak her out too much. "People would go nuts if they saw you, okay?" He said it harsher than he meant to, and willed himself to walk out the door.

"So explain the situation to them!" she retorted, voice raising as he walked out. "Cas. Cas! Let me outta these!"

He did not. He exited the cabin in a hurry and shut the door behind himself, then barely made it to the stairs off the porch before collapsing to sit with his hands over his face to muffle the tears. His shoulders shook as the situation descended on him. He'd known this day was coming. He could still remember the day Alex returned from this year, back in 2009. He'd known it the second he laid angelic eyes on her that fateful day: Pregnant. That had been shock enough—but then he'd found that when she'd been in 2014, she'd lost her virginity to him—future him.

The situation had blown his mind back then, and it was doing the same exact thing now on this end of things. How was this supposed to even happen? Cas was confused and afraid. He didn't want to, almost—but he also wanted her more than anything. She was his Alex, the woman he'd buried in the ground four months ago. He was wrecked by her loss. Wrecked. And their daughter was paying the price. Cas wept heavily, knowing that Lily was supposed to be conceived here in 2014. If he didn't go through with this, she wouldn't ever exist.


The Next Day

Alex crept discreetly around camp midmorning.

2014-Dean had come and taken her Dean on some milk-run mission, refusing to take her for who knows what reason. So, Alex had painstakingly picked a nail out of the floorboard and used it to get herself out of the damn cuffs.

Not that many people were around, but every time she saw someone, she stayed out of sight. Just in case. Seeing someone who was supposed to be dead would be pretty disconcerting, after all. Keeping with the theme, Alex stumbled across the camp graveyard and paused there. The little plot of land on the woods' edge was dotted by splintered wooden crosses. None of them were marked, but one of them had some yellow flowers beside it. Some birds abruptly started and took flight from overhead. Alex ceased her contemplations and ducked into the woods. Someone was coming. She began to make out footsteps crunching on the gravel of the road that ran beside the graveyard.

Peering out from behind the tree she'd hidden behind, Alex saw an unexpected sight: Cas walked up the road… holding the hand of a little brown-haired girl. In his other hand, he carried a small gathering of yellow flowers. The little girl looked up at Cas, asking him something or saying something to him. The child was dressed in jeans, boots that looked a little too big for her, and a little brown jacket—she came up to the middle of his upper leg. Cas smiled down fondly at his little companion, eyes crinkling up. He looked better than yesterday. He'd shaved—his beard was still full, but it wasn't wiry and overgrown like it had been yesterday. His hair also looked nicer—brushed and cleaned up.

Cas and his friend came to stand in front of the grave that had the slightly wilted yellow flowers on it. Like she was used to the routine, the little girl reached for the fresh flowers and Cas handed them over, crouched down in front of her, then took some twine out of his pocket.

"Here we go," he said, then tied a very clumsy bow around the flowers.

"You makes bad bows, Daddy," the little girl said in a sweet, high-pitched voice.

Alex almost fell over.

Daddy? Cas was a dad?

"That's what Mommy always said," Cas said, a sad little smile on his face. He looked at the flowers, then into the little girl's face. "Okay, you know the drill." Alex watched with a slack jaw. This was surreal.

The little girl laid down the new flowers, took the old ones, and handed them to Cas. "Mommy said angles are in the sky, Daddy. Is Momma with the angles now?"

Cas looked so tenderhearted and slightly saddened. "It's angels, sweetheart and… no. Angels aren't real."

The little girl's face screwed up into a perplexed, ultra-thoughtful frown. "But Mommy said they were, she said you was one."

"I know she did. Lily, Mommy is in a good place now." Cas's voice cracked. "I promise."

"A place with flowers?" that sweet little voice asked.

Cas's face worked hard, trying to maintain a smile even as pain plastered itself rigid across every last part of his face and body. "Yes, a place with flowers." He stood slowly, looking down at the grave with a tense, anxious expression. Lily took his hand in both of hers and leaned against the side of his leg, garnering a little smile from Cas at the gesture of affection.

"I think she must like how we leave her flowers, don't you Daddy?" Lily looked up, putting her chin into Cas's leg. "Can she see these ones we maked today?"

Alex almost felt touched and almost emotional watching this, especially when Cas looked down at his daughter and smiled softly for her benefit. "Yes baby, she can see these."

"Can she see the ones we leave the rest of the times?"

"Yes. Of course. Mommy is always watching us. Loving us."

There was a long silence as Lily looked at the cross. Her little face filled with the kind of sadness a child should never have to feel. "I don't want her to be died, Daddy," Lily said, becoming tearful. "Why did she died? Why can't she come back?"

Stricken, Cas crouched down and circled an arm around her, gently rubbing her tiny back with his huge hand as he sought his daughter's gaze. She sniffled before burying her face into his shoulder.

"Some things not even Daddy understands," he told her softly, running a hand over the back of her head and kissing the side of her hair before he cradled her. They stayed like that a minute. Cas's face fought severe sorrow and he shook, forcibly closing his eyes as his face screwed tight. When he'd composed himself, Cas dug deep and put on a happy face. He ruffled his daughter's hair and scooped her up as he stood. "Come on, let's go home awhile, okay?" He pretended he almost dropped her and a sudden laugh split the air.

Cas grinned as his baby girl hugged her arms around his neck and smashed her face into the side of his. "I love you Daddy and your beardie tickles me!"

Cas rubbed his face into hers playfully as he carried her away, and she shrieked with laughter, happily protesting "no, beardie, noooo!" Cas's affectionate chuckles rumbled low as they retreated into the distance.

Alex stared in disbelief after Cas and his daughter—he somehow seemed to really know what he was doing. How the hell did that happen? She barely recognized him. Even though he seemed jaded, he also had this confidence and self-assurance she wasn't used to associating him with. She'd readily admit it to herself: she had been attracted to Cas in 2009—awkward, strange, offbeat Cas in the backwards tie and trench coat. However, this version of Cas was almost more alluring than the one she was used to back in her year.

Drawn like a magnet, Alex followed Cas and Lily at a distance. Cas's wife or partner or girlfriend was the one who they'd just left flowers for. She wondered who it had been.

Cas and Lily disappeared into a cabin that must have been Cas's. Outside, an old '90s SUV was parked. Alex crept around the back of the cabin and up onto the small back porch. She peeked in through the open back window, relegated to spying. It felt weird, but she couldn't help herself.

Lily was sprawled on the floor faced away from Alex, coloring with some broken crayons. "When can I come home with you, Daddy?"

Alex couldn't see Cas, could only hear him.

"You are home with me."

"But I wanna stay home not go away and away and away… Mommy left now you left."

There was a heavy pause.

"Daddy's just going through a very hard time and can't take care of you best right now." Cas sounded absolutely broken and ashamed by guilt.

Alex felt a deep and inexplicable sympathy shimmer through her even as she felt guilt of her own. She shouldn't even be doing this. And as absurd as it was, she was almost feeling jealous at the thought of her guardian angel falling in love with someone, having a kid with them… he must have loved the one he lost a lot.

"Why?" Lily asked innocently.

"Because, sweetheart."

"Because why?" she insisted.

Cas drew in a soft breath. "Because when Mommy went away… I got lost."

"How'd you got lost?" Lily asked, her sweet little girl's voice and question causing Alex to smile sadly.

"It's a metaphor," Cas told her, chuckling softly.

"What's a mega floor?"

"Uh… it's something that means something else, to put it succinctly."

"Suck sinkly?" Lily sounded exasperated, which was undeniably cute. "Daddy your words are funny and I don't understand them!"

Alex could hear the fond smile on Cas's face. "You can come home soon, sweetheart. I promise, okay? Daddy is going to try his best to get you back home soon."

Lily got up and ran with short little legs over to Cas. His soft laugh drifted over to Alex's straining ears. She craned her neck and glanced the reflection in a tiny mirror. Cas was grinning widely and Lily had her arms around his neck. "Ouch, you're so strong Lily bear!" Alex's heart melted a little. Geez. Who knew seeing Cas with kids would do this to her.

"I want to hug you forever and ever and ever and ever and EVER!" Lily exclaimed. "And when I can stay home forever I won't stop hugging you all-lllllll day long!"

Alex heard a knock on the front door on the opposite side of the cabin, then the sound of it opening. "Hey, gang!" Ellen's familiar voice said.

Lily seemed to be distressed by the sudden appearance and began to whimper. "No, nooo, I don't want to go yet, Daddy!"

"Let go of Daddy, pumpkin, we need to go back now," Ellen said.

Lily was crying now. "No, Daddyyyyy," she howled. "I dun wanna go-oooo,"

"Shh, shh. I love you very much, Lily sweetie. Go with Aunt Ellen and be a good girl, okay? I'll see you soon."

Lily hiccuped. "Promise?"

"Pinky promise," Cas said. That seemed to calm Lily down.

"All right, we'll see you tomorrow, Cas," Ellen said, then the door shut and silence fell.

Alex remained in place, deciding she should probably get lost… and then to her startled dismay, Cas came out of the back door, scrubbing his face with his hand. Alex was pressed up against the wall next to the door. Cas didn't notice her. Not yet. His eyes were closed as he rubbed the palm of his hand across his forehead over and over.

Well, this could get awkward fast. Alex cleared her throat, deciding to just get it over with and announce her presence. Cas jumped, and then when he recognized her, his shock seemed to quadruple. Alex thought it was because she'd given his handcuffs the slip. "You have a kid, huh?" Alex asked, smiling slightly. "She's pretty cute."

"How long have you been out here?!" Cas asked, his voice tight and pinched. He began looking around in a panic, like he didn't want her to be seen—then he grabbed her shoulders and all but pushed her into his house. "What are you doing out of Dean's cabin?!"

Alex looked around the cabin curiously. It was pretty messy—and there were some kiddy drawings tacked to the wall, some construction-paper chains… and then Alex saw something that made her heart stop. "Oh my god."

Sitting beside the bed was a framed photo of Cas grinning with his arms around a woman who laughing and holding a toddler Alex recognized as Lily. Alex almost fell over. Because she was the one holding Lily. "Oh my god!" She took two steps backward, almost falling over in shock.

Cas saw what she'd seen. His shoulders slumped and his eyes fell shut briefly in defeat. "Alex—I can explain—" he started, holding a cautioning hand out and looking at her beseechingly. Alex's mouth had gone dry, her heart had begun to beat like a butterfly trying to escape its cage. It made sense now: her ring around his neck. The way he'd been looking at her this entire time.

But she couldn't fathom it. Her brain couldn't wrap around this. "W-we had a kid together?" Her and Cas? Her and Cas?

"I… I was trying to keep that from you—I'm sorry—" he stumbled out in a flustered and nerve wracked mumble. "I know it's a little shocking."

"…A little? Cas I… " Alex trailed off, momentarily out of words. She looked around the cabin, not sure how she felt about this. Her mind quickly came up with many questions. But one of them vied for number one: "H-how old is she?"

Cas looked down briefly, his features contorted. "She'll be five in November." He looked at her sorrowfully. "I'm sorry but I can't tell you anything else."

"Why not?"

"I just can't."

Alex struggled to string it all together. "So... you're saying we end up together? You and me?"

Cas seemed almost hurt. "Why does that seem so hard to believe?"

She was doing the math and it didn't make sense. Alex shook her head repeatedly. "Things must really take off fast soon in two-thousand nine, I mean…" she paused, becoming hesitant. "Y-you've never even touched me."

Cas's breathing hitched and he swallowed, his tongue darting out to wet his lips and his eyes flickered up to hers. The way he was looking at her made her stomach flip. She recognized the look without ever having seen it on his face before: he wanted her. Alex felt herself reacting without even meaning to: breathing a little harder, flushing over a degree or two in warmth. Her mouth grew drier.

"All of that changes very soon," Cas said, further mystifying her… further arousing her.

Alex was embarrassed at her reaction, which made her outwardly flustered. "Meaning…?" she demanded too harshly.

He shook his head, torn and not looking her in the eye. "I can't say."

The frustration was mounting into near-anger. "Why not?"

He looked back up at her. Those soulful eyes contained worlds of emotion, feeling, and affection. "You made me promise not to. Before you died."

Alex was getting annoyed—and shaken up. "This is some Doctor Who shit," she snapped.

He frowned deeply, looking more like the Cas she did know. "A what?"

That threw her off. Alex almost smiled at his confusion and after a second shook her head, regaining some composure. "Never mind." She drew in a deep breath. Then suddenly it clicked: "Oh. Is that why you said I had to stay hidden away? …Because of her?"

Cas's expression grew sadder. "If she saw you… she wouldn't understand. I barely do." The look in his eyes was haunting. When he reached out to touch her bare arm and mournfully brush his thumb across the skin at the hinge of her arm, Alex stiffened. His touch, innocent and completely non-sexual, inspired the opposite reaction in and she withered, alarmed at how the simplest touch of his thumb had just warmed her so much. He saw her expression and took his hand away. "I'm sorry," he apologized sincerely, growing uncomfortable.

"I-it's okay," Alex said, but she was cursing herself inside—she was still every bit a virgin for god's sake, she'd never even kissed Cas, how were she and Cas supposed to suddenly go from zero to all the way in the next month or two? Cas must have seen her fretful expression, because he was looking at her intently.

"What is it?"

Alex shook her head, somber and nervous and suddenly very, very quiet. "This is… this is just too much." She couldn't be close to him, not with the way he kept looking at her. "I'll go back to Dean's cabin. I'll stay there. I didn't know about… about Lily." Saying her name out loud, Alex suddenly felt her eyes fill with tears. Her voice dropped to almost a whisper when she realized. "We named her that because of Mom, didn't we?" Lily. Mary Winchester's middle name.

Careful and empathetic, clearly worried about her, Cas nodded.

Alex dashed her tears away and turned, leaving the cabin with her emotions wrecked. Cas followed to the door, unsure if he should go with her or not. In the end, he stayed where he was, broken anew. In love all over again. Longing for her so deeply he couldn't even begin to understand.

He couldn't stand to see the woman he loved in so much pain. He couldn't stand to know she would leave him here again soon—and he would never see her again. With a heart that was tearing apart, Cas looked toward the kitchen where the endless supply of alcohol waited. Those fucking bottles were the reason he didn't want Lily with him right now. Because he spent so many days and nights in a helpless, drunken stupor. He didn't know how else to deal. He could barely go on most days.

Cas cursed himself and sat down on the end of his bed. The bed that was now empty and cold. An ever-present reminder. He barely ever slept in it anymore—he slept on the floor or he slept on the porch or in his car. Tears ran freely and Cas began to weep. The walls of this cabin were used to hearing his cries. With his hand curling around the objects near his heart, he cursed himself again and again.


Alex spent all day in Dean's cabin. Cas brought her some food around two o'clock, staring at her with clear yearning the entire time. It made her blood pressure go through the roof. She wasn't sure if he knew he was looking at her the way he was: one second mournful and heartbroken, the next like he wanted to touch her and kiss her and… no. Alex needed to stop that. She was pretty sure it was just twenty-six years of sexual frustration making her feel that way.

Dean and Dean (how often would she get to think that?) came back around sunset, and with them… the Colt. The same gun they'd killed Azazel with. Apparently, the thing could kill Lucifer. Dean, the one from 2014, called a meeting in his cabin—Cas came along with a woman named Risa, and both Deans.

"You're coming with me," Dean told the 2009 version of himself. "But Cas, Alex… staying here."

"What, why?" Alex protested.

"I can't risk your life," Dean said gruffly. "Sorry, but I'm not risking it. And Cas hasn't exactly been the best on missions here lately. Risa, get the grunts moving. We'll hash plans over CB on the way there."

Alex stalked up to the future-Dean angrily. "Listen, I don't know who you think you are but—hey!" Dean snapped a metal bracelet around her wrist and yanked her over to the ladder then cuffed her wrist high up so that she couldn't bend down at all.

"Hey man, take it easy, would you?" Alex's Dean protested.

"Are you gonna just let him cuff me here?" Alex asked him, pissed.

"You'll survive," the other Dean told her, further incensing her. Her Dean gave her an apologetic look. And then everyone left the cabin, even Cas.

Alex growled in frustration. What, she was just supposed to stay like this all night? It was dark in here, too. Asshole. About twenty minutes passed. Then the door creaked open, immediately piquing Alex's attention. "It's me," Cas's voice said. "They just left."

Finally. "Get me outta these damn cuffs, please."

He came over, his footsteps quiet. She couldn't see him very well in the dark, but he was close. She could smell him—campfire, a touch of linseed oil. "I'm not supposed to," he said.

Alex rolled her eyes. "You friggin' defied Heaven for my family, don't you think you can just take me outta these things?"

She heard him give the softest little laugh and saw him pull a lock pick out of his pocket. She felt him come closer, reach up to find her wrist—then his chest brushed up against hers and Alex's breath caught. She could hear her heart beat quickening in her ears as she tried not to notice how warm she felt. In the dark, lit only by a small camping light in the far corner, it was hard to see details well, but she could make out his dark eyes locking onto hers unabashedly—and they both forgot the handcuffs. God, no one had ever looked at her like Cas was looking at her now: smoldering—reverent—hungry—adoring—desirous. Alex was intimidated and also intrigued, aroused, interested—and she remained frozen, hoping he would close the distance between them because she sure as hell felt too shy to do it. What would Cas kiss like? What would those lips do with hers? He was so close that his breaths hit against her lips. Maddeningly slowly, his hand skimmed down from where her wrist was cuffed, fingers trailing down the skin of her arm, giving her gooseflesh. When his eyes traveled the space of her face, resting on her lips, she knew he was going to kiss her. Spellbound, she moved her face forward fractionally, dying for it.

Cas's hand came to the side of her neck, the pad of his thumb tracing her jaw as he leaned in, the side of his nose brushing against the side of hers. He softly pressed his lips down onto to hers, giving her a careful, measured, chaste kiss... holding himself back, a tortured expression on his face even as he gave the kiss to her. He'd only meant to kiss her like that once, one final touch of his lips to hers to quench the thirst he felt. But when he drew back, he was even thirstier than before, needed her even more. He couldn't help but lean in again and he breathed against the skin of her lips, watched her eyes flutter open, her gaze drop to his lips, and with his hand on the back of her head, he pulled her to him, kissing her again, softly, sensually—and the touch was maddening, it was infuriating and she seemed to think so too.

She suddenly pressed into him, tilting her chin up further, grabbing a fistful of his shirt as she kissed him with a boldness he hadn't expected—her handcuffs rattled noisily as she strained against the hold it kept her right arm in. Her actions unleashed something in Cas—there was a low sort of broken down moan from someplace deep in his throat and he dropped the lock pick thoughtlessly, putting a hand on the small of her back to crush her firmly against himself. His other hand tangled into the hair on the side of her head. He had forgotten what it felt like to kiss the sun itself, the only woman who could bring him to his knees and send him soaring in the sky all at once—he couldn't believe how she was kissing him—without hesitation, with eagerness. Like she felt how he felt. Oh Alex. They knew each other, even separated by this distance of time.

Cas's heartbeat thundered against her chest, fast. His mouth moved with hers now boldly, taking her into a deeper kiss. Alex felt like her body had been lit on the sweetest and most maddening fire. She couldn't concentrate on anyone thing—it was all so much—the way their mouths tangled, the sound and feel of his labored breathing, the warmth and solidness of him everywhere against her—it was all so indescribable, so beyond stunning, so unlike what she had imagined.

Their breathing became heavy and noisy in each other's mouths—and the way he pulled at her was becoming more and more frantic—he needed her and couldn't help himself from touching her like she were already his. Alex let loose a moaning gasp as he pushed her into the ladder. Castiel whimpered helplessly as his hands skimmed down to her hips and grabbed roughly, lifting her up easily, pinning her there as his body pressed hard against hers. Maybe not remembering who she was, that she wasn't the Alex from his time, Cas kissed her harder, trying to find the end of his need, trying to be satisfied but only growing more frustrated.

Higher up now, one of Alex's arms circled his shoulder. She didn't even consciously realize that she wrapped her legs around his waist. Inexplicably desperate for this and for him, Alex surrendered to the way he kissed her: wild and free, desperate and hungry, with his whole body. Like she was the only thing he wanted in the world. As he held her like that and kissed her with such furious passion, she felt the evidence of how turned on he was pressing between her legs… and she couldn't deny it. She wanted him so, very, badly and would let this happen. On instinct, she pressed her hips down into his and was rewarded with a low groaning growl from his mouth at the friction.

One of his hands abruptly cupped against her breast through her shirt, sending waves of pleasure and surprise alike coursing through Alex's body. She gasped into his mouth, stunned by the sensation—and it knocked Cas out of his trance. He broke the kiss and stared at her with a strange expression then inexplicably let go, stumbling back from her, his expression clouding over. And then without a word before she could even register what had happened, he turned and fled the building.

"Cas, wait!" Alex yanked at her handcuffs, stretching her arm down as far as she could before letting out of howl of frustration. Then she spotted a pen sitting on the kitchen counter beside her. After a try or two she managed to grab it, tear it apart, then use the little spring inside of it to get herself out of the cuffs. The second she was free, she tore after Cas, heading to his cabin.

She found him pacing the floor cagily in the dark. Strips of moonlight laid across the bed and parts of the floor.

"Cas, I—"

He whirled, his expression frightening and warning. "Get away from me." His shoulders heaved up and down.

"But—"

"I said leave!" he thundered... flustered. "Because if you don't..." he looked at her openly without any pretext. His voice dropped an octave. "I want you, understand?" Alex's mouth parted open at his blunt confession, her body warmed at the words. She wanted him, too. His chest moved up and down rapidly from shallow, impassioned breaths. He took a single step toward her, his eyes dark and full of stormy desire. "Here and now, right now." His expression wavered, torment shimmering across his features. "So just leave."

Alex almost got mad. She didn't want to leave. Deliberate, knowing exactly what she was doing and frightened by the thrill it inspired in her, she shook her head. "I'm gonna stay."

"Alex…" he warned.

"Stop telling me what to do," she told him a little louder and more forcefully. She raised her chin, heart pounding wildly, making her dizzy and mindless. She knew that when she said this, she was about to open a floodgate. But she wanted it more than she'd ever wanted anything. Her voice lowered and softened with sensuality she didn't know she possessed. "And come here."

At her sultry command, he paused, disbelief darting across his handsome features… and then he practically charged her, knocking into her hard and kissing her bruisingly, lifting her up and slamming her against the dresser that she'd been standing in front of—everything fell over or off from the impact. He groaned frantically and she did too, thrilled out of her mind. She could feel how aroused he was and she whimpered from fear and desire alike, clutching him tightly, her entire body coursing with intense amounts of need.

Cas broke the kiss briefly to yank his shirt off and over his head, throwing it without looking before he pressed back against her, his mouth reclaiming hers. She gasped into his mouth, in heaven. His hand crept to splay against her stomach underneath her shirt then slowly journeyed up over her ribcage to curve around to her back, pulling her tight against him. His warm chest burned through her top as he kissed her with a wild passion that made his entire body move against hers. Every little thing he did was making Alex insane.

His fingers threaded tightly into the hair on the side of her head, suddenly tugging her head sideways into a steep angle, exposing the side of her neck which he began to kiss with his warm, wet mouth, sweet and fiery touches and scrapes of his teeth against the delicate skin there as he closed a rough hand over one of her breasts, pushing against it and grabbing, brusque in the way he touched her, like he couldn't hold back. Crying out softly at what he was doing, head fallen back in surrender, she let it happen and pretended she was this other Alex, the one he felt this way about.

Growling abruptly, Cas grabbed her and carried her across the room to the bed and she was suddenly dropping down onto her back in the center of it, sideways—the pillows were beside her and Cas was over her, grabbing her bra through her shirt, pulling both articles of clothing up and over her head at the same time, casting them aside recklessly. Suddenly naked from the waist up with Cas on all fours above her, Alex breathed hard and stared up at him. He was fucking gorgeous in a primal way she'd never expected—and intimidating. She abruptly wasn't sure if she were as brave as she thought… and even as she was beginning to have her doubts about going through with this, he bent down and cupped a hand to the side of her bare breast. He nuzzled his nose against the soft skin then moved his lips, closing his warm mouth over the nipple. Alex forgot her reservations as he sucked inwards; at the exact same moment his hand slid down and rubbed her between the legs through her jeans. The hot friction made her gasp and her back arched off the bed in shocked pleasure. Her mouth fell open in a silent cry as he moved his mouth to her other nipple, flicking gently with his tongue, hand cupping her other breast softly, thumbing the nipple in caress after caress, his other hand now grabbing the back of her upper thigh possessively. A wanton rasp of gutteral pleasure fell out of Alex's mouth, a beg for more, a plead to never stop.

Cas crawled upward, kissing the skin of her neck again as one of his thumbs kept circling the bead of her nipple, drawing more gasps from her open mouth. "You are so beautiful," he breathed against her neck, and he sounded almost grieved when he said it. His other hand had slipped back to curve around her back and pull against the arch of her spine as he ground his hips into hers, showing her exactly how much he wanted to have her. His mouth again suddenly sucked on the skin of her neck and she protested with a soft cry, one of her hands brushing the side of his face. He grabbed hold of the wrist, shutting his eyes and pressing an earnest kiss into the center of her palm before moving her hand toward him so that he could close his mouth over the tip of her thumb to suck lightly.

Swept up in building pleasure, Alex left herself at his mercy, submitting completely as he began to kiss his way wetly down her body… trailing soft little touches down the center of her stomach and she shook with anticipation wondering what was next. She propped herself up onto her elbows to watch what he did, her eyes heavy lidded as her chest heaved with panting breaths. His fingers curled into the waistband of her jeans and pulled down slowly as his nose brushed over one of her hip bones. He nipped gently as he pulled the jeans down, kissing the top of a thigh lingeringly as he pushed her jeans past her ankles, nudging her legs apart with his hands and sucking on the sensitive skin on the inside of her left thigh, then her right thigh, hands curving underneath her ass. Alex could barely breathe. She'd never been naked in front of anyone, ever.

Every touch was driving her nuts and overloading her nerve endings; he was kissing further up her thigh now, achingly close to where she throbbed in torment… and she yelped in shock when his hot mouth suddenly came to cover her most sensitive area, she panted and stared, and then when his eyes flicked up to meet hers she forgot how to breathe—but then his tongue moved and—"Ahh!" She clenched two fistfuls of bedspread on either side of herself, whimpering pathetically as he pressed his hot tongue down over her again and again. He made a soft little sound, like he was overcome by pleasure too. Alex's head fell back as her eyes shut, her senses savoring and reveling in the building euphoria. Suddenly, she felt something gently pushing at her… and when she felt him slide a finger into her, then another, she squirmed and gasped and bit her lip. The pressure was so amazing and she wanted more, oh god. She could feel him breathing against her as he stroked his fingers in and out of her slow and deep, gentle. Her hips angled upwards into him unconsciously as she gasped unashamedly, her eyes squeezing shut even further.

Cas made a low, appreciative sound and it vibrated through her as his tongue and fingers coaxed quickly heightening pleasure. He slid another finger in, his tongue continuing to stroke against her. She whimpered in what almost sounded like alarm at his ministrations, her chest heaving with exertion. His fingers were now grinding into her faster and harder, careening her towards orgasm, and he seemed to know it too, because he suddenly slowed to an agonizing pace, fingers no longer thrusting but instead circling the aching place inside of her… and she let out a frustrated gasp. He sucked on her gently, and she responded with an unintelligible sound followed by noisy panting gasps. "Cas, uh!" she exclaimed uselessly. He suddenly, roughly yanked her jeans off completely with one hand, throwing them aside and pulling one of her legs up over his shoulder and then the other so that she had her thighs on either side of his neck. She was exposed to him fully, totally his for the taking. He used both hands to hold her legs firmly in place. His entire body seemed invested in the way he began to worship her most intimate area, and his mouth oh god his mouth and tongue made her insane, the way he looked doing it was so incredibly hot and unbelievable—Alex bit her lip, anxious for release. He had her so damn close. Cas held her tighter like he could sense exactly what she was thinking, moving his mouth and tongue on her more quickly. She had never experienced so much absolute bliss, it was piling up on top of itself, rendering her body rigid and desperate for the moment when the dam would break. And when his eyes snapped up, when those brilliant crystal eyes met hers and two fingers abruptly pushed into her again, it was all over.

"Aah!" Enraptured, tortured, despairing sounds tore out of her mouth as Alex came, her body spasming wildly in erotic torment underneath Cas's mouth. She heard him make a soft little whimpering sound as he stayed right with her, racing her to the peak and then backing off and slowing down in perfect timing with her, like he could sense exactly what she was feeling, like he knew exactly how to draw it out. And draw it out he did: she'd never had such a long intensity of it threw her body forward, she curled up off the bed into him, her hands grabbing onto the hair on the back of his head, her shoulders knocking into her own knees a couple times as she seized repeatedly in waves of indescribable, vast bliss—loud noises and whimpers tearing out of her mouth over and over. There seemed to be no end, it was impossible and she could only choke on her gasps and let it happen, try to survive—and then he reached up with his free hand and covered one of her hands that was fisted into his hair, lacing his fingers through hers tightly. It was like he was anchoring her. Reassuring her he was there. Feelings of safety and completion surged over her like a tsunami and Alex felt intensely loved beyond compare.

Finally it was over. Once he had coaxed every last ounce of pleasure out of her, she collapsed back down onto the bed, trembling weakly from the earth-shattering release. Holy shit.

"God Alex," Cas whispered reverently, looking up at her like he'd never seen anything more beautiful or heartbreaking in his whole damn life. Breathless and flustered by what he'd just done to her, feeling exhilarated and shy and unsure and so good, Alex just watched him as he untangled himself from her legs. He slowly began to drop more kisses onto her hips, then the space between them. The feathery touches sent little thrills of electricity across her sensitive skin. His hands traced warm, adoring sweeps across the tops and sides of her thighs, he kissed the soft give of her stomach, pressing his nose in, nuzzling her as he worked his way back up to her. She could both see and feel genuine, aching love in every touch. As he moved upwards, she briefly glimpsed how he strained forcefully against his pants, and the sight of that sent a surprising, faint surge of arousal through her.

His face was back in front of and above hers and as he looked down at her and it was almost too much, that expression on his face… he seemed so tender and in love. So young and virile and manly. He put a gentle hand onto the side of her face and kissed her again, sweet and aching. She could taste herself in his mouth and on his tongue. He made a low, anxious mmm sound into her mouth, pulling her hips upwards toward him, grinding himself against her through his pants and she gasped at how the pressure made her ache all over again for him. His warm, bare chest pressed against hers as he kissed her deeply, that same tongue that had just shattered her now gently explored her mouth with increasing fervor, and the feeling of desire and dissatisfaction surged upwards in her, she groaned anxiously despite herself and circled her arms around his neck, returning the kiss and beginning to fight him for dominance as he ground himself into her a few more times, each time with more and more desperation and desire. He groaned lowly, brokenly, pulling away breathlessly. "I need to be inside of you," he told her despairingly, and oh god when he said it, she wanted it too. She didn't need any further encouragement. She boldly reached down to unbutton him, he didn't seem to believe it and looked at her in shock, holding stock still for a second before drawing his hips back a little, allowing her to unbutton and unzip him. She was very ungraceful with unsteady hands, uncertain but frenzied more… wanting him inside of her too.

He shifted onto his side, lying beside her for a minute as he pushed his pants and boxers down to his ankles. She looked at him, momentarily in awe of what the clothing had concealed… she falteringly reached out to touch him, feeling bolder than she had ever felt as she took hold of the warm, hard flesh. Cas shuddered and grabbed her wrist, his eyebrows slamming together. She swore she felt him stiffen even more in her grasp. "Ah, stop, don't," he said in a strained, gutted voice. Alex looked at him, confused and afraid she'd done something wrong. She let go. He just shook his head and swallowed, a hand on one of her arms. His eyes were dark with desire and came to gaze into hers intensely. "You don't know what you do to me," he whispered, and began to kiss her again, a hand on the side of her head as he pressed himself to her—chest to chest, hips to hips… and he slid between her legs seemingly by accident, hitting up against where she longed for him most. She gave a muffled moan at the hard velvet bulk sliding against her. And then moaned her name into her mouth as his knees pushed hers apart and she felt the warm press of him between her legs and suddenly he was pushing into her deeply. They gasped in unison at the unmistakable feeling of completion, eyes meeting.

They were both breathless, gaze holding as Cas remained buried deep, pressing himself as fully inward as possible—a first-time feeling Alex would never forget for the rest of her life. Her entire body hummed in pleasure and awe as Cas's expression became fiercely tender. Still holding himself deep inside her, his hand crept down between their bodies to touch her gently where she was the warmest and wettest, fingers pressing against the sensitive bundle of nerves there. She watched him with pleasure-heavy eyes, and he stared right back, moved his fingers slowly, watching her face, her reaction. It was amazing—he knew exactly how to touch her.

She had never known she could even feel so much pleasure. She was almost mortified at how aroused she was, how easily he made her gasp. Anxious for Cas to move, Alex's hips began to circle and grind on him, and Cas reacted with a weak, blissful exhale. Answering her silent plea, Cas began to move slowly, restraining himself for the moment to gentle, deep, sensual thrusts. He kept touching her the whole time, balancing himself with one strong arm as he moved in and out, satisfying and worsening the building ache inside. Her head fell back, mouth fell open in absolute ecstasy—she circled her arms around him tightly, trying to be as close to him as possible even as he whimpered, loud, long, slow, like he couldn't stand it.

Feeling like another woman, Alex grabbed him hard, demanding he look at her. "Fuck me, Cas," she whispered, and his eyes registered both surprise and absolute willingness. He abruptly snatched her wrists up in his hands and pinned them above her head at the edge of the bed, his fingers lacing through hers as he began to fuck her hard and deep, pressing down on her weightily and leaving her to gasp incoherent pleasure. His nose pressed into the side of her neck and she felt his hot, shallow breaths hitting against the curve where her shoulder and neck met. He made desperate little whimpering cries through gritted teeth then grunted and let go of her hands, sliding his arms around her waist. He hefted her up with him as he sat back on his heels, effectively moving her so that she was sitting on him, her knees on either side of his legs.

She held onto his shoulders as he looked her in the eye and put a hand onto the side of her face, his thumb close to the corner of her mouth. He held her steady with a hand against her lower back and he buried himself over and over into her, his expression focused, his skin reflective with a thin sheen of sweat—and his thumb near her mouth gave her an idea in the midst of the passionate frenzy. She turned her head, closing her mouth over his thumb like he had done to her earlier and sucking. Cas reacted by breathing harder as his brows slammed into each other. He was beginning to sound out of control and close to the edge—he began to almost pound her and Alex was so overcome by the intensity that she was almost screaming—digging her fingernails into him painfully. "Cas, ugh, please, ah!" He threw her back down onto the bed, a hand under her ass, angling her hips upward to him and she gasped because changing the angle like that exposed the sensitive little nub of nerves between her legs to being being impacted every time he slammed himself into her. He yanked one of her legs up by the crook of her knee and held it there against him as he ravished her hard and fast and passionate. She felt herself losing ground; the ferocity of the thunderous pleasure was incredible and otherworldly. Like a thunderclap, another orgasm struck and she cried out over and over again, clinging to Cas's sweat-damp back as he came too. Hearing the wretched, satisfied, gasping sob sounds he made into the side of her neck was exhilarating and unmistakable—sounds she'd never thought she'd hear him make—and Alex hung on as he carried them both through the tempest, his body seizing in powerful tremors as he spilled himself completely into her. He pressed deeper as he shuddered, his body slackening finally with one final, lingering thrust. Exhausted, his head fell down to rest on her shoulder. The only sound was of their harsh, short panting breaths. Against her chest, his heart hammered wildly.

"I love you," he told her in an anguished whisper—and Alex realized with shocked sadness that he was crying bitterly and trying not to. "I love you," he repeated. He cradled the back of her head with utmost tenderness as he wept softly into her shoulder. Alex put a hesitant hand against the back of his head, not sure if she would comfort him or make it worse. His hand tightened on the back of her head. He wasn't talking to her, she reminded herself… he was talking to an Alex she hadn't become yet.

This was too much and she didn't know what she'd just done—her body was spent and weak and her emotions felt like they were just below the surface, vulnerable. His warm tears ran down the curve of her shoulder and she didn't know why, but her eyes filled with tears too.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," he managed, and was suddenly pulling himself out of her and moving away, grabbing a loose throw blanket off the floor and covering himself, sitting on the edge of the bed with his back to her. He put his face into his hands.

Troubled and concerned, Alex didn't know how to respond. She then caught sight of the glinting silver chain poking out from underneath one of the pillows. Curious, she pulled on it. On the other end was a small silver band that looked like it was her size. She stared at it. Was this…? She closed her fist around it and grabbed the loose sheet that was crumpled down at the end of the bed, holding it up against herself modestly, contemplating Cas's strong back. He looked over his shoulder at her, his face a mask of emotional pain. And Alex didn't even know when it had happened but she was suddenly, irrevocably in love with this man who had just made love to her like he adored her above everything else. She wanted to be close to him, to know him—she was suddenly afraid of losing this. Her eyes stung with more tears. His pain increased measuredly to see her cry, and he looked away again.

She got up on shaky legs and went to his side and sat down, seeking his gaze. She opened her hand up, showing him the ring she'd just found. She trembled, unsure what he'd say. "Is… this what I think it is?" she settled on, full of apprehension. But she really already knew.

He got quiet and didn't answer her for a long moment. Finally he looked her in the eye. "Yes. It's… y-your wedding ring." His expression wavered. "I keep it on your side of the bed and…" he couldn't hold himself together anymore, he broke down. She reached out to him instinctively and held him as he wept miserably. At first he resisted—but after a couple beats, he let himself cling to her. And Alex thought of the flowers on her grave and how he still wore his ring and kept hers close to him as he slept and how he'd made love to her with everything he possessed, heart mind body and soul. How much he loved their daughter. Overwhelmed, Alex pressed a kiss to his hair, close to tears again, never wanting to leave his side. She was reeling from the discovery of how tragic this was… that she'd just lost her virginity to the guy who was the husband who she wasn't even married to yet. That he'd been so passionate and loving because he'd been so in love with her, the woman who he'd married. The woman she hadn't become yet.

"All these years, I fought with myself about this, thought I would try and change it, hold myself back, not let this happen." His eyes flickered up to hers. "I didn't know you'd want it so much, too."

Alex looked at him in confusion, not understanding. She tilted her head to the side. "W-what do you mean?"

"This." He gestured vaguely, heavily. "This always happened," he said mournfully, deep in thought and looking at the floor. "You and me tonight. This." He looked at her fully. "My first time with you in two-thousand ten... you'd already been with me. This me. He'll know right away when you get back to your year. He'll know and he'll be… well, kind of horrified." It was strange to hear Cas talk about himself like that, as a third person. He was grim but a soft little smile came over his face as he thought. "But you should know that even now I… he loves you. In his own way, the best he knows how to." He choked slightly, pained again. He looked away, his eye line restless, flickering over the place in front of himself unseeingly. "Our story is very complicated, Alex. And we both knew it would end like this and…" he made the softest little cynical sound. "We did it anyway."

Mesmerized, Alex shook her head. "Why?"

He shook his head too. "We wanted to change it, we thought we could. We couldn't be with anyone else." That haunted, in love look lingered in his gaze. "For me... it's always been you."

Alex's eyes drank in the broken man beside her as her heart struggled. Not understanding how this was possible. Only knowing what she felt. "Cas… I don't wanna leave you," she told him quietly, honestly. There were tears shining in both of their eyes.

His expression wavered, threatening to break. He took hold of her hand gently. "I don't want you to leave either." He looked down at her hand. His thumb brushed over it in mournful affectionate.

Her heart felt like it softened and burst and she wordlessly leaned in, kissing him simply, chastely, lost in his atmosphere. He relaxed against her, and when she pulled back, her throat caught. "Well. I'm not leaving. Not yet, anyway."

He pulled her to him and settled her across his lap. The sheets tangled in between them as he circled his arms around her and kissed her burningly with a gentle possessiveness, like it was for the last time. Maybe it would have been. But Alex decided it wouldn't be. She pushed Cas down onto the bed and they made love to each other again, slow, long, deep, for what felt like hours. And when they were done again, she fell asleep in the circle of his arms. Cas stayed with her all night, watching her face, stroking her hair. Holding onto this and onto her, mourning her death all over again, wanting to tell her the secret that he knew he couldn't—Lily, and how tonight was the night she began to exist. He looked at the family picture beside the bed. His family. Their family. He couldn't even begin to put it into words, the way he loved this woman or the child they'd created together.

He wanted so badly to tell her, but knew that it was important that he didn't. Alex always told him she fell in love with him all over again in 2009 when he helped her through the shock of learning she was pregnant.

Cas traced errant patterns onto Alex's bare shoulder as he held her through the night. For her, this was just beginning and for him… this was the very end. That's why he refused to sleep, refused to miss even a second of this precious, last time he had with the one his wandering, lost soul loved. But in the latest hours of the night, with Alex warm against him and fatigue setting in, Castiel drifted off to sleep without meaning to.

When he woke up in the morning, Zachariah had taken Dean and Alex back to their year. And later that day, Castiel would die in an unexpected demon raid led by Lucifer—Dean had failed to kill him with the Colt, and Lucifer traced their location back by torturing Risa. Ellen and Chuck got away with Lily, but Cas did not escape. He died saving them, serving as a distraction for their safe departure. He perished without grand fanfare, flickering out like a candle that burned to the end of its wick.

Lily was raised by Ellen. In her nineteenth year, she found an angel blade in her father's things when she went back to Camp Chitaqua and rummaged through the remains. She'd heard a rumor that this thing could kill the devil and had been looking for it. With the blade in hand, she and the last freedom fighters who remained summoned Lucifer into a ring of holy fire. And there, Lily Winchester killed the devil with her father's blade.

She barely remembered her parents, but she remembered that she had loved them very much.

Back in the year 2009, Alex Winchester remembered and loved the Castiel she'd fallen in love with in 2014. The years carried her back to that same man and she loved him always: as an angel, as a man. It didn't matter; she just loved him.

In 2009, Castiel, still an angel, was shocked when he laid eyes upon Alex and knew, immediately, that she was different. No longer a virgin. And with child. He was the one who told her she was pregnant. And he was the one who stepped up to her side and, in the best way he knew how, helped her. He told a very shocked and angry Dean that he was the father without knowing he really was. It was his first instinct best attempt to make it right somehow, and when Alex told him he was the father… it had been a hard, confusing time for them, but as in any version of reality, the two of them were always meant to be in love. And they were.

In April of 2014 when a single gunshot rang out and Cas held his dying wife in his arms, she would tell him, "it's okay Cas. You're gonna see me again." She'd held his hand, crying softly, trying not to be scared. Brave until the end.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," he had told her over and over again through his wretched tears.

"I'm not," she told him. She meant it. "You're the chance I'll always take." He wept miserably when she said that. "Shh, it's okay. Shhhh." Through her tears, she smiled at him. Her last act of courage. "See you on the other side?"

"No, Alex, not yet," he had protested through a soft sob. "Don't leave me."

"Never," she had said emphatically, through so much pain. But then she had. And Castiel was wracked by violent sobs, knowing there was no other side. That her soul fizzled out into nothing, went nowhere, just ceased to exist. He had almost killed himself several times after she died—but how could he leave Lily? He had tried to hang on, knowing that his daughter needed him and also that that he would see Alex again, just one more time. But then when Alex from 2009 had disappeared too, his misery had increased a hundredfold. He'd been almost happy when the bullets had ripped through him and his life had ebbed away as Lucifer stood overhead, smiling coldly. It was finally over, his endless torment.

Castiel's final thought had been of the one he loved. And how all he wished for was to see her once more. Just once more. Always once more. But he knew that he wouldn't.

So imagine his surprise when his eyes fell closed for the last time... and he awoke in a beautiful place—their cabin. And Cas had looked at it in confusion, how bright and neat it was—flowers in a vase, everything was clean and nice, like she was there again… was he dreaming?

And then he heard the rustle of the beaded door curtain and he turned to see Alex, beautiful and healthy, running to him. She threw her arms around his neck, kissed him, the ring around her neck pressing tightly into his skin. And when she pulled back to look at him, he gazed at her breathlessly, hardly daring to believe… "Is this heaven? Are we in heaven?"

"Yes, of course we are!" Her eyes were bright, sparkling at him, and he was overjoyed. "I've been waiting for you," she told him, almost playful. She kissed him again, and he was whole once more. He was with the one he loved beyond reason, beyond measure, beyond time. When they pulled apart, he held her face in his hands, laughing almost from relief. And then, he remembered someone else.

"Is Lily here?" he asked hopefully, scanning the cabin and seeing her sweet drawings plastering the wall, one of her hand-sewn dolls tossed on the floor. Alex took his hand in hers.

"Not quite yet," she said, smiling affectionately. "She's still down there, making a difference. Come on, I'll show you." Alex led him outside. And the two souls that were always meant to be together forever finally were.

They say that if you look up some nights, when it's really clear, you can see two stars that weren't always there—the light of two souls. The stars are indistinguishable from each other if you don't look closely… close beside each other for the rest of all eternity.


"I know now, just quite how my life and love might still go on.
In your heart, in your mind, I'll stay with you for all of time."