Title: Roadside - posted January 16, 2010
Author: Lacey McBain
Pairing: none
Rating: G
Word Count: ~580
Summary: Episode tag to 5.04, "The End" - actually, more of an extended scene than a coda, to be honest.
Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Kripke and Co. I'm just playing.


Four hours pass relatively quickly considering Castiel is standing at the roadside simply waiting. He believes this will teach him patience, to be more understanding of the human condition. It's not often he forgets Dean is human—that his body is fragile, easily broken, his spirit equally susceptible to intangible hurts. Castiel knows he's unable to protect Dean from everything that seeks to wound him, but he's trying. However, remembering the daily requirements of food, water, and sleep is not as easy for him; they're not things he needs to sustain himself, and Dean still must remind him of these necessities.

He needs no timepiece to tell him when the minutes have passed, when it would be appropriate to "pop in," and Castiel has already decided that if Dean is sleeping, he will let him sleep. Humans need far more than four hours, and Castiel knows Dean will continue to push himself beyond the limits of human tolerance if he feels he must. It's clear that Dean feels this need to push himself all the time now, that it isn't enough to do all he can, he must somehow do more. Castiel wonders if this is in part his fault—he told Dean what he had given up for him, reminded him of Sam's role in bringing on the apocalypse. Dean carries more guilt—no, not guilt, Castiel corrects, responsibility--than any human being should be expected to bear. Castiel must do what he can to help alleviate that burden; Dean alone is not at fault here. They all bear a measure of responsibility in this calamity.

Castiel closes his eyes, feels the world shift around him as he concentrates on Kansas City, Century Hotel, Room 113, Dean. There's a fraction of a moment before he arrives when the shapes of the room begin to form in his mind: one bed, a small kitchen, table and chair, the breeze through a small window, one angel and Dean, radiating defiance and petulance and fear. Castiel doesn't even bother to materialize fully, simply touches Dean's shoulder and pulls him away from the room, back to the roadside because it's the easiest transition to make, no thought required beyond the will to return.

He knows Dean hasn't seen him, but when he realizes he's been transported, he turns around and his face is flooded with the clearest sense of relief Castiel has ever seen.

"Pretty nice timing, Cas," Dean says, and Castiel recognizes what Dean isn't saying. It was close, too close. Whatever Zachariah had offered, Dean had seriously considered, and Castiel wonders what terrible future Zachariah imposed on Dean's dreaming mind that becoming Michael's vessel would be an acceptable option for Dean. Or at least, perhaps, a lesser evil.

"We had an appointment."

Dean slides a hand onto Castiel's shoulder, other hand stretching out as if he wants to embrace him, and yet still so shaken that he's unable to do more than say, "Don't ever change."

Castiel accepts Dean's words for what they are. Gratitude. Appreciation. An expression of acceptance. Friendship. Castiel smiles and nods. He will serve Dean in whatever capacity he can until the end of the world because of this. Because Dean, who believes in nothing beyond family and the things he can see and touch and kill, trusts him. Believes in him to be there, to do the right thing, to save him.

And Castiel will bend himself to justify that trust until he ceases to be.


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