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09 February 2012 @ 12:09 pm
fic, spn: a world of gods and monsters, part II  
One week and a half in, and he realizes that he needs help.

First thing, with Balthazar coming in twice each week, he’s left with useless bodies in his cellar after he’s done with them until Balthazar comes to dispose of them. Castiel doesn’t even want to know how he does that – it’s no matter.

Second thing, between noting down his observations and dissecting on his own, it’s taking him a lot more time than it’s acceptable. If someone else did the cutting for him, or wrote for him, it would be extremely faster.

Third thing, he still isn’t there yet and he needs to be quicker. What he knows now is considerably more than before, and he thinks that he could help that child now, but it doesn’t change much. Operating on someone alive is a thing, death is an entire different matter.

Still, it’s worth a try. If it works, it means he’s one step closer.

He sends a letter to the child’s mother, asking her to come to see him as soon as possible, and then when Balthazar shows up that evening to dispose of the remains, Castiel takes a very deep breath.

“You said that you might be available for further helping me,” Castiel tells him as Balthazar drops his bundle of blanket and corpse into the wagon.

“I did say it, yes. And how would you need it?”

“Can you write?” He doesn’t ask whether he can read – that was obvious from the books in Balthazar’s house.

“I can write,” Balthazar replies.

“Could you cut a body, if I told you where and how?”

“I’ve done worse.”

“Come here tomorrow with whatever you need, then. I will need you to stay here for the next couple of weeks. You name your price.”

“I could name it tomorrow evening.”

“As you wish,” Castiel agrees. He can’t afford wasting more time.

--

Three days later, he’s back at the university along with his little patient and his mother.

Dr. Adler, of course, is furious.

“Milton, you can’t just use this place as your own study! You don’t show up for a month without giving me a rightful explanation and then you… come here saying that you have to perform a dangerous procedure and need the equipment? What’s wrong with you?”

“I might have performed that procedure months ago, if you had agreed to my request for using some of those bodies for my own research. Nothing is wrong with me. Actually… everything is quite right,” he answers before turning his back on Dr. Adler and heading for the room he has managed to reserve.

--

It works.

--

He doesn’t go back to teaching, tough. After seeing the child he operated take his first steps two days after the procedure, Castiel goes back home and into the cellar to find Balthazar running through his journal.

Castiel can’t even tell him not to do it, since Balthazar has written a good portion of it in the last few days. And he was right – having someone taking notes for him has sped the entire process up.

“One would think that you aren’t only researching a way to treat spinal injuries,” Balthazar says as Castiel takes off his jacket. Under it, he wears a ruined dress shirt that he only puts on to do his dirty business.

Castiel shrugs, taking the blanket off the corpse laying on the table. It’s a man in his mid-thirties, his neck broken. From the scar around it, it’s obvious that he was hanged.

“I brought that one in yesterday evening,” Balthazar explains, sitting at the other table, pen and ink in hand. “He used to be a colleague. I don’t envy him. There’s a reason why I never drive fast.”

“Why, what did he do?” Castiel asks, not really caring as he turns the body over and getting ready to cut from the neck downwards.

“Some rich person said that he’d pay him double if it got him somewhere fast. He ran over this guy who was crossing the road and killed him on the spot. Rich person told him not to mind and to go ahead, but apparently the brother of the dead guy works for some lawyer and didn’t let that go. They needed a head and of course they wouldn’t get the sodding rich person, right?”

So that’s the driver who killed Dean, Castiel thinks, and all the coincidences have started being too much. He isn’t feeling any kind of happiness at seeing him dead on his table though – it wasn’t his fault, strictly.

Castiel wishes he could find a way to make Dr. Adler pay, but all in good time.

All in good time.

Then the other lone light bulb oscillating from the ceiling dies and leaves them both in darkness.

“Bloody hell,” Balthazar mutters in the dark, “now that’s a problem.”

“I had it changed recently, though,” Castiel says, reaching up and feeling for the bulb. Maybe it only needs to be moved – it’s not as if he has ever paid much attention to the electric system in the cellar and –

As soon as he touches the bulb and moves it a bit to the right, the light snaps back on again, but his hand hurts. It feels on fire and the skin is reddened, and blood pulses under it; for a second Castiel thinks he can feel everything that goes through his veins.

It almost feels doubly alive.

That’s when he gets it.

“Balthazar, hand me that.”

Balthazar says nothing and hands him the journal. Castiel runs through the pages, re-reading his notes, looking at the sketches, and thinking, if it was that easy?

“Castiel?” Balthazar asks, but Castiel doesn’t hear him.

“Cassie?” Balthazar tries a minute later, and that snaps Castiel out of it.

“I knew we were on a first name basis, but I think that’s –”

“You have been staring into nothing for the last two minutes or so. I had to get your attention, didn’t I?”

“I think I know what I have to do.”

“That wasn’t very helpful, darling.”

Castiel dismisses that – darling isn’t worse than dear. He doesn’t mind much either. Right now, he doesn’t care about anything other than what he has just found out.

“Do you think that I have been dissecting corpses for a month because I wanted to fix a spinal cord?”

“I’m not that stupid.”

“Good. Because that isn’t what I wanted to do.”

He takes the key to the ice cellar and opens the door. It’s cold inside, colder than it was at the beginning of the month, but Castiel isn’t taking any chances.

He turns on the light.

Dean is still lying on the table, pale and motionless, covered by a thin blanket that is absolutely useless but somehow gives the illusion that he isn’t dead for the first few seconds.

“Wait,” Balthazar says. “Something tells me that he was in that coffin we dug out the first day.”

“You’re correct.”

“And why exactly – oh, you don’t.”

No, Castiel thinks, Balthazar isn’t stupid.

“I do. Now, are you with me or not?”

Balthazar looks at the body first, then at Castiel, then at the body again. He shrugs.

“I think you’re mad, but if you can’t do it, it’s your loss. I am not the kind that breaks contracts.”

Good, Castiel thinks, because he’s going to need someone to help him. A small shock won’t be what will make this work.

--

Three days later, he has read every book on the subject of electricity that was to be found in the town’s library. There weren’t many of them, but Castiel knows that he needs a lot of equipment. Not to mention that he’ll have to find a place that isn’t his cellar to do what he’s thinking about, but if he has to find out everything he needs piece by piece he will never manage to do this in timely fashion.

When he sits down at the table in the cellar, that evening, it’s clean for the first time since Balthazar dropped the first corpse on it.

“Darling, you seriously want to shock him back to life,” Balthazar muses from the other side of it. He looks as if he can’t decide whether Castiel is mad or a genius.

“Do you know of another way?”

Balthazar laughs at that, as if he’s unable to process the question. “I don’t know of any sodding way to make a dead man live. Who am I to say you’re wrong? I sure pray that you aren’t planning on doing it for a job, though.”

“No. It’s only him,” Castiel replies, biting his own tongue. He shouldn’t have said it. Not when his voice could give him out.

Balthazar just stares at him again, then raises his hands and stands up.

“Your business, your money, darling. I suppose that you had something in mind to actually do it, right?”

“I might make it up as I go, but I think I do.”

He’s so close he can almost taste it.

He only hopes that it isn’t too late and that Dean is still there.

--

Anna visits him the next day. Castiel isn’t surprised that they sent her – she always was the only sibling of his with whom he was somewhat close. He isn’t sure about letting her in, but he can’t do otherwise. He realizes that among the rich red of Anna’s hair there’s some white, too. When did he last see her? He doesn’t remember.

“Listen,” she starts as soon as she sits down, “I don’t – Raphael has insisted for me to come for the last two weeks or so and I couldn’t refuse him anymore.”

“What does he want?”

“Well. He says that if you read his letter, you know already.”

Castiel sighs, shakes his head. “Anna, I am – I have a reason to do this. I can’t tell you or anyone else. I have done everything that was asked of me until now. But I can’t let this go. What I’m doing is more important.”

Anna sighs, and Castiel knows that she understands it even too well. She has been forced into marrying someone she hated, which is one of the reasons why he talks to her even outside familiar obligations.

“Are you doing something or you’re… grieving?”

Castiel’s eyes widen and Anna’s answering smile is a sad one.

“Castiel, do you think that I don’t remember that you always were closer to him than to any of us? They don’t want to understand it, I’m afraid. But if it’s grieving… I understand it. I tried to explain Raphael that you need time, but…”

“I understand,” Castiel replies softly. “That’s… you were right. I’m not sure what good will it do, but you can tell them if they want to know so badly.”

“You know it won’t be good enough of an answer.”

“Next time maybe they should come themselves.”

Anna nods and Castiel hopes that he hasn’t taken the wrong path. But it will be easier if everyone thinks that he’s only grieving.

--

Balthazar gets in through the backdoor a short while later. The hems of his trousers are more dusty than usual, Castiel notices.

“It seems like I found you the place you wanted.”

“You did?”

“Well, granted that you can be content with it. Some fifteen miles from here, there’s an old mill that has functioning electricity but that no one must have used in a couple of years. There’s a large enough room at the top floor.”

“Excellent.”

Castiel can really taste it now, not almost. He has all the equipment he needs, and the fact that there has been extremely sorry weather for the last week only makes him feel closer to his target. He’ll need a stormy night for it to work, but from the dark clouds he can see on the horizon, he thinks he doesn’t need to wait anymore. And it’s a Thursday, too. It feels incredibly fitting.

“If I were to do it tonight, when would you advise leaving?”

Balthazar thinks about it one second, glancing at the clock ticking on Castiel’s wall.

“At least another four hours. There shouldn’t be as much light as now, and considering what we’re bringing there, better to be safe than sorry. Is that enough time for whatever you need to do downstairs?”

“I have already done everything I needed to do,” Castiel replies. He has fixed the break in Dean’s spine with that same technique he used for his other patient, he has put fresh stitches all over again in place of the old ones. It’s a miracle that there hasn’t been much further decay – either it was Castiel taking good care of the body, or maybe his grandfather’s cellar was worth the money that was spent on it back in the day. It doesn’t matter.

Twelve hours from now, or maybe a bit more, or maybe a bit less, and Dean’s eyes might not be lifeless anymore.

He doesn’t even care about what might happen later.

Not that there’s anything that will make him go back on this.

--

While Castiel divides all of the equipment he needs between old suitcases – he can’t afford it to get wet – Balthazar deals with Dean’s body. Castiel would have rather done it himself, but Balthazar had a point saying that he knew how to put the electrical stuff together, while Balthazar himself was the one that has spent the last five years of his life handling corpses. They cover both suitcases and body with enough blankets to hide the content of the wagon from everyone that might pass. Castiel wears old clothes and puts on a hat for the first time in the last ten years or so – he hates hats, but the last thing he needs is someone recognizing him. He sits in the back of the wagon, over the blankets, in the only space left free by everything else.

It doesn’t rain until they actually get to the mill, and it’s a good thing since as soon as they’re inside, they start hearing thunder.

“At least I can say that my life has been interesting, on my deathbed,” Balthazar mumbles as he walks up the stairs with his own bundle while Castiel brings the suitcases.

“I hope you will not go into details,” Castiel replies.

“Darling, considering that half of the reason my deathbed might end up being extremely comfortable will be what I earned thanks to you, consider yourself assured.”

That’s a point, Castiel figures. A pretty valid one.

--

When everything is set and he drops into the top floor through the window on the ceiling, his clothes are heavy with rain and mud and dirty all over again.

Balthazar doesn’t look too impressed. If anyone saw them, they’d think that Castiel was the one getting paid to do this.

“Darling, will you just explain me why did you need to go on the wretched roof out of every place? Especially when it’s about to fall off?”

“I need electricity. If lightening hits the wires bringing energy to that lamp,” he says nodding towards the lone, long dead bulb at the center of the ceiling, “then it will bring that also to my equipment, since it’s attached to the central system.” Castiel nods towards another hole in the ceiling to which his machine is attached. He did all of that before climbing out of the window. “’m here because I need a strong jolt. Otherwise I could have done that in my cellar. I had to… get rid of some parts of that roof.”

Balthazar takes one of the two chairs available and goes to the opposite side of the room.

“Then you won’t be offended if I don’t stay close, do you? I wouldn’t like to accidentally catch some of that. I told you, I’m aiming to die on a comfortable bed.”

“Suit yourself. You did enough already.”

“Could I ask you one question? Personal curiosity. I won’t charge you for it.”

The thunder is still too far. Castiel has some time to spare.

“Of course,” he answers as he looks at Dean’s pale face and at the electrodes on his temples. Dean is lying on an old bed they found in the room; the machine is behind the bed’s head.

He’s tempted to reach out and smooth away hair from his forehead, but he won’t.

“Who is our lucky young man? Considering that you have thrown away your career one way or the other, he must be worth it.”

Castiel knows that. If this works, he will have created something that everyone would name abomination, not that he would have made it public. It’s Dean. He isn’t doing this for glory or for science. If it doesn’t work… well, he will have wasted two months during which he has lost most of his reputation, but Dean deserved that regardless.

“He was my friend,” he replies. “And he didn’t deserve dying the way he did when he did.”

It’s difficult to make out Balthazar’s face in the darkness, but Castiel can see him nod. “I’m starting to suspect that maybe he’s the one that colleague of mine that I brought you had the disgrace to run into.”

“How do you know?” Castiel would really like to know how Balthazar realized it.

“Well, when I brought you that particular corpse and I told you who he was, you seemed fairly shaken. It was a lucky guess.”

“The dean was on that carriage.”

“You mean, our common employer?” Balthazar snorts. Castiel can see him putting a hand on his mouth, probably trying not to laugh fully. “I can see why you have a certain animosity towards him. Well, further animosity.”

There’s only silence after that. Castiel looks out of the window, noticing that the storm is coming closer. Yes.

By now the room is almost entirely dark. There was no light to begin with because the bulb is broken (the electrical system still works though, since the lamp at the entrance could be switched on), and now that it’s past midnight, the only thing Castiel can see is Dean’s face whenever lightening makes it visible.

“You know,” Balthazar says, “I think there is something you might want to learn about. Free information. Take it as a thanks for the opportunity that was working with you.”

“Which would be?”

“I told you that our friend Dr. Adler signed a piece of paper where it’s stated that it’s him paying me for bringing him the bodies he needs.”

“You did.”

“I failed to specify that my own name is nowhere on it.”

“Do you mean that –”

“If that piece of paper became public, I wouldn’t be the one being in trouble for it.”

“And where would that piece of paper be?”

“That’s information for another day. I only wanted you to know that.”

Castiel would answer that – he is interested, but then he hears a thunder much nearer the mill and opens the window.

The storm is almost over them.

And he doesn’t have time to worry about Zachariah Adler.

--

He stands, going next to the leverage that he has to pull down in order for the entire thing to work. He’s thankful for the window on the ceiling through which he has hosted himself in before – it’s no good for lightening up the room, but it’s good enough to see when it’s the moment to push.

He isn’t sure that he has more than one shot at this.

What if it doesn’t work?, what was once the voice of reason and that now became traitorous says.

It will, Castiel thinks. It has to. It can’t not. And maybe – maybe if it does, he could finally find the courage to tell Dean why exactly he did it. After all… he can’t expect anything, but Dean wouldn’t outright be disgusted. Not when Castiel is doing all of this for him.

Right?

--

For all the time he has worked on this, it’s almost strange that it’s over in a matter of seconds.

Castiel has his face raised towards the ceiling window; one moment it’s all dark, the other he sees white, and he doesn’t even think about it. He pushes down the lever on the side of the machine.

There’s hissing, and he has to jump away from the table Dean was resting on because sparks from his carefully put together equipment almost hit him in the face. He sees Dean’s body moving because of spasm once, twice, as the machine creaks, and there are sparks again, and then a moment later it dies and there’s only the sound of rain hitting the windows savagely, so loud that Castiel doesn’t hear himself when he clears his throat. He doesn’t even hear Balthazar’s steps as he approaches the table.

“Did it work?” Balthazar asks, barely audible. For once, he sounds completely serious.

Castiel wishes he knew – Dean’s face hasn’t changed, but the light is dim and he can barely make out his own hands.

“Wait a second. I knew I had to bring this,” Balthazar mutters taking a candle from the inner pocket of his coat along with some matches.

He lights it and Castiel has to blink twice in order to let his eyes adjust. He looks down at Dean. For a long, terrible second, everything is exactly as it was before the jolt.

But then Dean’s right hand twitches.

Twice.

He doesn’t open his eyes or speak, but his lips part and he takes in a small, shallow breath, and then another, and then another. Castiel reaches out, his hand shaking, taking Dean’s wrist between his fingers, gently. He moves his thumb where it should be, searches for –

“There’s a pulse,” he whispers, his own voice so thin he can barely recognize it.

“I’ll be damned,” Balthazar replies, and he’s looking at Castiel in something like awe. “He is alive.”

I did it, Castiel thinks, unable to process anything other than the feeling of Dean’s pulse against his fingertip (it’s smearing dirt all over Dean’s skin, but he doesn’t even notice), or the way Dean’s lips are slowly turning from blue to pale pink, or the small quantities of blood timidly peeking from the stitches in Dean’s chin and neck and the other visible places.

I did it. I did it. I did it.

--

When Castiel sees Balthazar out of the back door, he hands him a handful of neatly folded bills.

Balthazar counts them and whistles when he realizes that it’s more than the agreed sum. “What’s that for?”

“For the… further services,” Castiel says. “You have stayed true to your part of the deal. And you deserve that bed to die on. Of course, when you speak about your interesting life…”

Balthazar chuckles as he pockets his money, patting his coat after he’s done. “Don’t worry, darling, I’ll be as silent as a grave. Which I realize wasn’t the best way to put it, given the circumstances. May your friend have better luck now than previously. And if you ever need to find me, you know where I am.”

Castiel nods and Balthazar disappears in the fog outside his house.

Maybe Castiel shouldn’t have trusted him this much, but he proved himself enough times, and Castiel probably has made it so that he’s on the right track to buy or rent a much nicer house, other than the soft and comfortable bed. Balthazar has no reason to tell anyone.

He grabs his jacket as he walks upstairs – he should get rid of it. It’s stained with dirt from the mill, and –

He gasps when he sees that there’s a piece of paper in his pocket. And as much as he’s hurrying to go back to his room, he has to stop to read it.

When he’s done, he smiles to himself.

Now he has enough proof that Balthazar won’t say anything, he thinks, and wonders if maybe he could count one more person among the ones he calls friends.

But it’s not time to think about that now, is it?

He runs up the stairs to his room.

--

Dean is lying on Castiel’s bed, still breathing steadily. He hasn’t woken up yet, but Castiel won’t allow himself to be worried for now. After all, he has been dead for two months – he couldn’t expect a full blown miracle. He also knows that he looks horrible and that he’s downright filthy – his clothes are covered in dirt and dust and rain water, and his hands have stained the covers and the sheets while he and Balthazar had put Dean into the bed. He took care to at least wash his hands after, but only them. He doesn’t have time for more.

Also, it makes sense that he should end this as dirty as he was when he dug Dean out of his grave, after all.

He thinks about what he should say. About how to explain it. About what they’ll do after, because you can’t come back from the kind of death Dean had (Castiel wishes he had died falling into the sea or any other way that wouldn’t have implied seeing him being buried), especially not when some of his fingers have the signs of a wheel passing over them. (Castiel has set all those bones, one by one, and they should work properly, but there was no way to change that.) Or when you have neat rows of stitches carefully holding your skin together.

Or when there are two faint burns on your temple, where Castiel put the electrodes.

But it’s not what matters. To Castiel it doesn’t matter. Dean was always perfect to him and now he’s even more perfect, because he’s here because of his work.

And then Dean stirs, once, twice. His head turns, his eyes open oh-so-slowly (so green and so alive, Castiel could weep in joy and maybe he is crying after all). He blinks, trying to focus, and Castiel keeps still in his seat. Dean might not even remember him. He can’t allow himself to think that this will all go as well as it could.

“Cas?” Dean croaks, his voice barely audible and so rough from disuse that if he had said more than one word it wouldn’t have been understandable.

But to Castiel, it sounds sweeter than all the heavenly choirs would sound, if he could hear them. (He won’t ever hear them. If Heaven and Hell exist, he knows where he’s headed after this. He doesn’t care.)

“Hello, Dean,” he says, moving closer, his knee on the side of the bed, his clothes staining the white linen. He reaches out, so very slow, his finger slightly touching Dean’s cheek. It’s colder than it should be, and other than that Castiel has noticed that Dean’s heart beats slower than it should, but it’s no matter. Not when it worked.

“I –” Dean says, his throat obviously hurting. Castiel should have brought some water, but he’ll put a remedy to it soon enough. He nods in encouragement. “I was – I died,” he says, his eyes widening, and Castiel could cry in joy all over again. He remembers everything. Not only he did it, but he has done it right.

“I brought you back,” Castiel whispers, not daring to touch further but not removing his hand either.

“You – why?” Dean’s eyes are so wide, so green, so confused.

“You deserved to be saved,” Castiel replies, and he can’t find it in himself to find the price he has paid too high. Not when Dean’s eyes are still staring into his and Dean is there as he should be. As he will stay as long as he should.

Not when his life has just regained its only source of happiness.



Epilogue


Dean spends the first week in a haze. He feels strange, out of place. He barely realizes what’s going on around him, and moving his own limbs is hard enough for him not to think about anything else.

The only things that he knows for sure are that he died, and that Cas brought him back. How, he has no idea. When, is another entire question. The last thing he remembers is feeling pain all over and the sound of the bones in his hands cracking. They’re healed now, more or less. He can’t close his hand in a fist entirely, but that’s as far as the damage goes. He goes through the motions and he lets Cas walk him around trying to regain some balance – the first time he tried to stand up, his legs gave out after a step.

It’s only after those first seven days that he wakes up one morning with his head and vision clear. The world is not blurry or a haze anymore, and his limbs move when he wants to and not when they want to. And when he tries to actually think straight, he finds out that it’s not so hard anymore.

Which is exactly when Cas gets inside the room with a cup of that kind of tea that Cas loves to pieces and that Dean always found so terribly bland, and he looks so happy that Dean’s idea of asking him what has he done exactly gets pushed to the end of the list of questions.

“Dean? How are you feeling?” Cas asks, handing Dean the cup. It’s fine porcelain. It feels completely foreign against his fingertips.

“Better,” he answers, taking a sip. It’s disgusting, but it’s good for throat – speaking has been hard, when it hurts as much as it does. He pretends to like it.

“I just realized that I hadn’t set foot here in years,” he mutters as he hands the cup back to Cas. Cas gives him a knowing nod, but he doesn’t say anything.

“It’s never too late, isn’t it?”

Dean nods as Cas leaves the room with the empty cup, and wishes he could make sense out of everything. But he can’t. He can’t even make sense of how Cas even did this. Oh, he has always known that Cas was better than everyone else in the place he works put together, but there are miles between being a good doctor and… defying nature.

But more than that, there are other things he should ask.

When Cas gets back in, he takes a breath and gets to question number one.

“Listen, how – how are the others?” There’s no need to specify who the others are.

Castiel takes a breath and sits next to him on the bed, though not close enough to touch. “Your brother has postponed the marriage for six months, but it is happening at the new date. Your father is working at the shop again. Sam insisted for a trial but the only result was that they hanged the carriage’s driver, not the person who was urging him to hurry..”

“How are they doing?”

“I haven’t visited as much as I could in the next month, but I met Sam two weeks ago. He’s doing better than I thought. He said that your father is, too.”

“Good. But I suppose I can’t exactly… go home and say hello, can I?”

Cas’s face falls at that, and Dean can’t help feeling a bit bad for it.

“I… didn’t tell anyone. But if I told, do you think I could have tried to bring you back at all? Someone would have stopped me.”

No, you couldn’t have even begun, Dean doesn’t need to say out loud. He does understand it.

“But I can try to… hint at it and see how the reaction is.”

“Don’t – I’m not so sure that it’s a good idea. If everyone else finds out, what happens then?”

Castiel doesn’t answer. Dean has an idea that it would be nothing good. Whatever Cas did, Dean could bet that it wasn’t legal.

He’s afraid to ask.

“What I thought. Don’t – it’s fine. We’ll see in a while. I more or less figured it out on my own. And – it’s better like this than down there.”

Which isn’t a lie at all – at night he dreams about an endless black void sucking him in and when he wakes up he’s cold all over.

He never tells Cas that, though. He has done enough already.

--

It takes him two days to realize that maybe, just maybe, Cas shouldn’t be here all day.

“Shouldn’t you… I mean, shouldn’t you be teaching?” he asks Cas. Cas’s lips curl up slightly, the way they do when Cas thinks he has said something particularly funny. Dean knows that smile. He has seen it since they were children.

“I should. But… it was never what I wanted for myself. You know that. I think I have more important matters on my hands now.”

Dean can’t believe that he’s supposed to be more important than all the years Cas spent working hard to get where he was.

But the way Cas looks at him, it’s obvious that he thinks that for real, and Dean should be worried, a lot more worried, but he can’t find it in himself to.

--

When he finds out he has been sleeping on Cas’s bed, he says that Cas should give him the guest room, and Cas refuses without wanting to hear questions. When Dean feels good enough to discard night clothes, Cas gives him a stack of clothes that it would have taken him the earns of possibly two months to buy, if they were two very good months.

While he changes, he takes another good look at his body. His hands are ruined for good on the outside, even if they work fine, so he won’t complain about that. There’s a huge scar on his back running along his spine that he didn’t have before, and it’s red and angry-looking. It won’t fade anytime soon. He has managed to take off only one of his rows of stitches. It’s on his wrist. The skin has reformed, which means that at some point he will manage to take off also the ones on his chin and his cheek, but you can see the tiny holes left by the needle.

And there are those two burns on his temples.

As he dresses, he feels like some kind of freak show, and isn’t he one? He’s – he used to be dead.

But when Cas looks at him it seems as if nothing makes a difference to him and Dean won’t be the one saying it out loud, but it makes him feel slightly better. The way Cas always sticking with him when they were children used to make him feel better after his mother died and all of his other supposed friends vanished into thin air the second he had to take care of serious things.

Sticking with him seems such a pale metaphor, right now.

When your best friend since you both were five brings you back to life because in his opinion you deserved it, everything seems like a pale metaphor.

Dean wishes he knew his own feelings on the matter.

Dean wishes he knew his own feelings about everything right now, but he only feels a great deal of confusion.

Then again, maybe he’s justified.

--

He doesn’t even know how he stumbles into the cellar or what he was searching for. But when he does and sees three thick journals lying on the table, he can’t resist. He sits down and opens one, realizing that rather than a medical book as he had thought, it’s a blank journal where someone took notes. Someone. Cas. He could recognize the handwriting anywhere.

At some point he does notice that the handwriting changes, but it’s… not that important in the great scheme of things. Not when he reads notes all written clearly and leaving no doubt to what was that research about.

He doesn’t know if he should feel awed, humbled, grateful or scared.

Maybe the four of them.

He has no time to ponder it though, not when he hears the door closing and Cas walks slowly and sits on the chair next to his.

“I shouldn’t have left them around, but maybe – maybe it’s better like this.”

“Cas, what – what did you do?” Dean asks, his voice still rough and his scarred fingers shaking as he closes the last book. “How many people –”

“They were all dead already. I had no other choice. I had to find a way.”

Dean wonders if those corpses were ever returned to their graves. He thinks not. He should feel sick. Maybe he does feel sick, a bit. But still – he’s here. He has a life – some life, at least. If anything, he might at least get to see his brother getting married from afar, and that’s more than he could ask for. But that’s not it.

It is the way Cas is staring at him right now. It’s so intense that Dean almost wants to look down.

“I don’t regret any of it,” Cas says, slow, his hands moving from his knees to the table. “I’ll admit that there was some selfishness involved in that decision, but you – you never deserved that death, and you always deserved more than life ever gave you. I couldn’t let it go.”

“Selfishness?” Dean repeats, unable to grasp what that would mean.

Cas shakes his head, moving closer. His hand is inching towards Dean’s wrist until it covers it. It’s warm, Dean thinks. So much warmer than his own.

Cas opens his mouth once, then he closes it, then he shakes his head and moves his hand down, covering Dean’s.

“Don’t you ever wonder,” Castiel asks, quietly, “why it ended that badly when you brought me to… that den of iniquity?”

Dean remembers that time even too well. He had thought that maybe Cas wasn’t interested in sex at all – absolutely insane by his standards, but not as if he was going to criticize. They had been friends for some fifteen years by then, he wasn’t going to care about that kind of thing.

“I just thought that maybe you… weren’t interested in any of that.”

“I wasn’t. There’s only one person I have been… interested in,” he whispers, looking down at their hands and then up at Dean again, wide blue eyes staring at him so solemnly again, and oh.

He had never even considered it.

After all, Cas has always been the kind of person who stares too much, and since Dean can remember he has always tended to get in his personal space rather than keeping a proper distance. He had taken all of that for things that Cas just did.

He had never realized that maybe with him it was different.

“You mean that – you did this for –”

“That I did it all for you? Of course I have. I had to try,” Cas replies, his voice getting marginally lower. “I couldn’t stand the idea of you being dead. You are the only thing I ever chose for myself in my entire life, and I was supposed to let you die such a senseless death?”

“And now?” Dean breathes out, wishing he had something to say. Something that might not be wrong, but everything that comes to him sounds wrong. Whatever he thinks it sounds either insensitive or not enough.

“Now… Dean, I wanted you to know at some point. It’s your decision. Don’t feel as if you owe me.”

“Actually, I do –”

“No. You don’t. You deserved only good things, and you never were given as many as there should have been. You deserved to live. I only tried to make it happen. And I did it, but… I don’t want anything that you don’t want. And I never thought you would feel the same – I’m not expecting you to change your mind.”

The worst thing is that Cas actually is convinced of that. You can hear it in his voice – he isn’t expecting anything.

To be honest, that was one thing Dean never understood about him. That he never ever asked for anything in the entire time they ever knew each other. He figures that it’s an effect of belonging to a family where they drill into you that choosing what to do with your life isn’t a main priority.

“Forget a second about changing my mind,” Dean says then. “You can’t still – I’m not even –”

“The only thing that isn’t right about you is that you had to be dead for two months.”

It’s the way Cas says it that makes Dean’s head spin. He sounds so sure of it. As if there is nothing else he wants in the world, as ruined as Dean is (because there’s no way around it – his hands, his body, his blood not running so hot anymore, his cold skin, his heart beating a lot slower than it used to; Dean is ruined). Dean remembers that time when he told Cas that he envied his brother because he found the perfect girl for him, the one who’d love him until death do them part.

Maybe he has had his own in front of it all along. But it still wouldn’t be fair to either of them if now he lied and said that it was the same for him. He hasn’t even known until now.

Still…

He does love Cas. He always has, even if not like that. He has never told Cas straight, sure, but Dean has considered him as close as family for… a whole damn lot of time. And it never came easy for him, and it came harder since Mary Winchester died, and he thinks, what if it had been him and not me? How would I have felt?

He can’t help answering, I’d have felt as if half of me had gone.

He licks his lips, then raises his head and looks at Cas again.

Trying and see if this damned confusing mess of feelings has some basis can’t hurt, right?

Especially not now, anyway.

“Listen,” he says, “I’ve never… even thought that you could feel that way. For me. I’m not even sure I ever considered it, but… I think…”

“Yes?” Castiel’s voice sounds strangely small, and Dean hopes that he’s not ruining this with the next thing he says.

Except that he can’t find a way to word it that doesn’t make it seem as if Dean is doing this because he thinks he should, and so he stands up, motions for Cas to do it too, and when they’re inches from each other he closes the distance between them.

Cas goes still when Dean kisses his cheek, just next to the corner of his mouth. It’s not even a decent kiss, by the standards Dean would have held before dying, not lasting even half a minute. Technically it’s not even a real kiss, since he didn’t even have the guts to do it fully, but he can’t seem to do more than this right now. But when Dean moves away, the grip Cas has on his arm doesn’t lessen at all.

“Dean?” he asks, and he sounds as if he can’t believe what just happened. “Don’t – you don’t have to –”

“Cas, it isn’t – I’m not even sure of what I’m doing, but it’s not because I think I have to. I wanted to see if – and maybe – I need to think about this, but –”

“I understand,” Cas replies, moving closer himself, his hands covering Dean’s cheeks. They’re shaking.

He can’t remember if he has ever seen Cas’s hands shake in their entire life. It’s no matter though – they’re still so much warmer than his own skin.

“May I? Stop me if –” Cas’s voice shakes as much as his hands. Dean interrupts him.

“All right.”

This time, it’s not such a sorry kiss as before.

It’s slow, and it’s obvious that Cas has never kissed anyone properly, but it’s still so very nice; his lips are so soft and so warm against Dean’s. The tip of Cas’s tongue traces his lower lip but that’s it – Cas doesn’t go farther. Cas’s hands are in his hair now, his fingers running through it tentatively, and when Cas sighs a little, Dean shivers. There’s no rush of blood as it used to, though, and he doesn’t feel certain parts of him awaken, but he’s not entirely sure that it’s because of Cas. It might be his own body’s fault.

Considering that his heart is now beating as fast as it used to at any given time when he was alive, it’s probably his body not behaving right.

When they part, Cas’s cheeks are flushed and he looks as if he’d die happy if he was to die right now.

Dean feels as if someone put a fist around his heart and clenched. It wasn’t even a serious kiss.

“I’m all wrong,” Dean whispers. “I shouldn’t be this cold. I should –”

“Dean. You aren’t. As far as I’m concerned, every part of you that matters was brought back right.”

“But –”

“It’s not even been a month. You haven’t adjusted. And even if this is it… I stand by my opinion. I don’t want more. I don’t need more. I didn’t even need that. I would be content just with you being here.”

Dean isn’t so sure about it getting better. In his experience, it rarely happens.

But even if he doesn’t, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Not when Cas’s hands are so very warm and when his lips look so very red, alive in a way Dean isn’t sure he will ever be again.

Still. It’s a life.

“You’re warm,” Dean says, inconsequently.

“Would you rather go upstairs?”

Dean nods and doesn’t oppose it when Cas leads him out of the cellar and inside his room.

When Cas pushes him under the covers, he doesn’t put any resistance. When Cas climbs over them and puts an arm around Dean’s waist, Dean doesn’t flinch. He thinks he might like this. It’s warmer.

“I don’t think I can –” he starts, but Cas shakes his head.

“That was more than I ever hoped for,” he replies, sounding awed. “I told you. I don’t expect anything else.”

“You – Cas, no one could –”

Cas shakes his head, interrupting him. “Dean, you’re not only your body. I did it for you, not for a part of you.”

“I shouldn’t even exist.” Dean can’t help it – not when all his reactions are different from what he’s used to. Not when he can’t help remembering what was in those notes and when he can’t help thinking, how could he even do it?

“I’m afraid that I don’t care about such things. Not anymore. Not when it’s you. And I would do it all over again.”

It should be all so wrong, Dean thinks. As wrong as he is.

But as Cas’s hand reaches forward and cups his cheek again, his thumb running over the row of stitches, Dean realizes that right here and right now, he doesn’t care. He closes his eyes, his head turning against Cas’s hand, and he isn’t feeling that cold anymore.

For now, the rest doesn’t matter.


--


There’s a piece of paper that Castiel always keeps on himself. In his coat’s inner pocket, in his shirt’s, on his nightstand.

He still hasn’t made it public. Balthazar hasn’t lived where he used to for a while, and Castiel wants to make sure that he left this town for good before he makes a move.

Far from him to risk a friend’s life.

There’s a pile of letters on his desk. He doesn’t open the ones from his brothers or his parents. There’s one from Dr. Adler, threatening to take severe decisions if he doesn’t come back in timely fashion (meaning, right now). Castiel thinks about the piece of paper in his coat and does nothing.

Soon, he thinks as he watches Dean sleep in his bed, Castiel’s own hand on Dean’s shoulder, moving to his neck once in a while, he will use it. He wouldn’t even do this for Dean, strictly – he’d do it for the both of them.

Not for now, though.

For now, he’s only content knowing that
he did it.

And that if it came to Dean, he’d do it again, and again, and
again.

End.
 
 
feeling: okayokay
on rotation: random mozart
 
 
 
cassiopeia7: Cas&Dean: angstycassiopeia7 on February 9th, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
Aww, Janie, this is terrific! Gotta admit, I was afraid you'd follow the original ending and make me cry, but yay! for happy endings! &hearts
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural + nick cave = otpjanie_tangerine on February 9th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
Much glad you liked it, thanks! :DD and hee well I spent a lot of time cursing both Mary Shelley & everyone who made the Frankenstein movies because the poor monster never got the happy ending, I wasn't going to pass on it.. ;)
cassiopeia7: Calvin & Hobbes: Yay!cassiopeia7 on February 9th, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
One time where the monster definitely got the happy ending -- and the girl! -- was in Young Frankenstein. :) You and Mel Brooks -- birds of a feather. ;)

the female ghost of tom joad: self-destroying buttonjanie_tangerine on February 9th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
Oh of course! I didn't mention that one because I was thinking about non-parodies, but yeah there's a reason I've seen that movie ten times. ;) ;) I just wish the monster had the happy ending all the time, but I'll totally take that one. XD (Oh Mel Brooks. My love for that man.)
Emerald Embersemerald_embers on February 9th, 2012 03:36 pm (UTC)
MY HEART IS IN PIECES SO TINY YOU COULD MIX THEM INTO A SALT BULLET AND USE THEM TO HUNT GHOSTS

I LOVE YOU
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural + nick cave = otpjanie_tangerine on February 9th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
HEY HEY DON'T DIE ON ME, YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU TOO RIGHT <3

*hands hot chocolate or whatever you think you might need* ;)
sarkywoman: SPN - sleeping Deansarkywoman on February 9th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
This is freakin' epic. Castiel's obsession was portrayed so poignant and chilling, blending the memories of happiness with Dean together with the stark reality of what he has to do to bring him back. I loved it!
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean 2.0janie_tangerine on February 9th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
Ee, thanks so much! :D I'm really glad that you liked it, also because I don't usually do the obsessive kind of Cas but I couldn't resist it for this one. And it's totally good to know that it worked for you. ;)
nox_wicked: [HoND} just another outcastnox_wicked on February 10th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
This was haunting in the most brilliant way possible. I was hooked from the beginning, and I absolutely love the way you write dean and cas's relationship, especially castiel's obsessiveness over dean (which works so perfectly for a frankenstein story). The ending was perfect as well, and that last line just gives me awesome chills.

Excellent work, this is a prime example of why you're one of my favourite authors in the fandom!
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural + nick cave = otpjanie_tangerine on February 10th, 2012 10:40 am (UTC)
Aw thanks! I'm so happy that it worked for you and that the characterizations did too - I figured that in light of how S6 ended obsessive!cas wasn't too much of a stretch... ;) and it's totally good to know you liked how it ended too :D and thanks so very much again, I feel all flattered now <3
Daisy Drostezoemathemata on February 10th, 2012 02:21 am (UTC)
So so awesome. I'm a big Frankenstein fan and I loved your Dean/Cas take on it. Oh, your Cas was just heartbreaking! At the end? He was so noble and .... loving.

Fantastic!
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural + nick cave = otpjanie_tangerine on February 10th, 2012 09:50 am (UTC)
I had been wanting to do a D/C Frankenstein thing for ages so I might have been very happy when I got that prompt. Thanks so much, I'm so glad that you liked it! And well, Cas does to everything for love after all... ;)
readbeforesleepreadbeforesleep on February 10th, 2012 05:35 am (UTC)
Loved everything about this. I particularly enjoyed how well it worked with the canon of Castiel reforming Dean's body, bringing him back to life and Dean not quite understanding why he deserved to be saved. Though here it was because Castiel, playing God, commanded it.

The end left me feeling concerned that Dean is going to be brought back again and again with less successful results each time and that Castiel is going to be less and less sane each time. That's the true horror of the story for me. Very nicely done
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural + nick cave = otpjanie_tangerine on February 10th, 2012 09:46 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! :D I might have decided to do that prompt because there was too much canon parallel not to do it, so it's awesome to know that it made sense to you canon-wise. Without that pesky little concern that it was all Cas here.

And I did try to leave the ending ambiguous enough, but I was totally implying that Castiel wasn't above doing it again if needed, and that it probably wouldn't work as well the other times.. I guess we can all hope that the first time sticks as long as possible. ;) Much glad you liked it, thanks again!