I imagine it would take a while for Cas to succumb to the mark, but I’d imagine Dean would see the difference immediately. I’m fine, Dean. I’m fine. I swear. But the gentleness that was always there when Dean looked at him….it was fading.
The plan was always to save him. They weren’t supposed to lose. If Dean could make it through the mark obviously an Angel should be able to, right? Cas is antsy and Dean still won’t say out loud what they’re all thinking: there’s not much time left.
It was then that Sam and Dean decided that Jack should stay with Jody. There’s room there now that Claire’s on the road most of the time these days. Jack doesn’t want to go, but Dean reassured him that he didn’t want to watch this. He doesn’t need to have this burned into his memory. Jack whispers thank you into Dean’s shoulder when he hugs him goodbye.
Cas wants to see Claire one last time. Him and Dean argue about it. After that Dean is sure as hell that he doesn’t want any of the kids near him. Dean tells himself he can tell Claire about all of this later when Cas is better. There’s no need to upset her. He knows that like him….she won’t be able to stop until Cas is fine.
But they forgot one crucial detail when Cas took on this curse. When Dean had the mark it took Cas’ angelic strength to wrangle Dean’s enhanced strength.
Cas was only able to snap once. It was a nice day. Clear blue sky for miles. And Cas….Cas seemed to be in slight better spirits. And Dean ate up every bit of that hope. Why not go for a drive? It’s just a drive. A feeling of normalcy. And the suggestion brought the brightest smile to Cas’ face. But then he had to run inside the gas station for only a moment. The machine wasn’t reading his card. It wasn’t more than five minutes, but it was long enough. Cas wasn’t in the car.
Dean panicked trying to spot him anywhere. His gut led him to the small diner across the street. He drove over, parked, and peeked in the window. All he could see was red. His stomach twisted as he flew inside. Standing in the center was Cas. His back was to Dean. There were a handful of bodies on the floor. And yet Dean ran to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. Cas! But Castiel reacted and grabbed Dean’s hand, throwing him painfully over his shoulder. Dean cracked into the floor and he was certain that his shoulder was at minimum dislocated. Cas, please. His voice cracked as he looked up at the angel looming over him. For now that was enough. The look in Cas’ eyes shifted back closer to what it’s been. Oh, I’m sorry Dean. He reached a hand forward and healed Dean’s injury. A wave of nausea crashed into Dean. Even Cas’ grace felt wrong.
Rising from the floor, Dean put a hand back on Cas’ shoulder. I need you to fight this, man. Cas answered sincerely, I know. I’m trying. His eyes took in the room for the first time without the fire of the mark. They widened in fear. I-I….the man- He looked back at Dean. He couldn’t bear to look elsewhere. The man spat while he was walking. It was almost on the impala. And…now we’re here. Dean’s grip tightened. I know. Believe me, I know. His voice shook. I need you to fight harder. You need to stop. Reality sinking in. He shakily moved a hand to Cas’ face. The mark will make you break every bone in my body, and unlike last time I can’t just heal afterwards like you did. So I need you to stop feeding the mark blood.
Of course, Dean.
It was that night that Cas asked Sam to build another ma’lak box. Dean didn’t know that nor was Sam going to tell him. He instead took the yelling Dean threw at him for suggesting such a thing. But deep down Dean knew it needed to be done and he helped build it. The whole time he kept telling himself it wasn’t going to come to that. He kept telling Cas that he would never do that to him. There’s still plenty of time. Of course. I’m not going anywhere.
It was several weeks later when Cas was having a miserable day. The mark made him horribly irritable. Cas struck him so hard that Dean out of instinct stuck Cas back. And the smile that contorted Cas’ face was monstrous. He struck Dean harder this time. He hit the floor and coughed up several mouthfuls of blood from the force of it. Still, Dean reached a hand out. His fingers clutched the bottom of Cas’ pant leg. Cas. Tone down the strength. And Cas kicked him so hard that his ears were ringing. But Dean again reached for him.
This time though Cas reached for him and the moment their hands touched, Dean was healed. Cas helped pull him to his feet. And then he struck Dean again. Not as hard as before, but enough to bruise. CASTIEL. It was enough to pause the moment. It had been so long since Dean last said Cas’ full name. It felt foreign on his tongue. By Cas’ expression it seemed odd for him to hear too. There was a brief flicker in his eyes and Cas took off to the other side of the room. As far away as he could get from Dean.
A small part of Dean wondered why Cas didn’t just walk away all together. There was no way either him or Sam could out muscle him. He could just leave, but Dean was grateful for every moment he remained right here. Always within eyesight. Maybe what was left of his Cas didn’t want to waste a single moment too.
The moment Sam saw the fresh bruise it was game over. The first words out of his mouth were: We can’t wait anymore. Despite everything Dean still argued until his voice was hoarse.
It wasn’t until Cas walked over to him and put hand on his shoulder that the argument ended. He didn’t say anything, but for the first time in a long time Dean thought he really looked like his Cas.
Dean’s hands were shaking as he left the room. Cas stayed behind to talk to Sam for a few minutes.
The moment Cas sat down in the box a wild look started flooding his eyes. Dean’s voice came out in a shaky whisper. I’ll fix this. You’ll be better soon. I swear. I won’t leave you like this.
I have faith in you. Cas’ eyes darted up to the lid that needed to come down. He felt like he was about to combust. His eyes went back to Dean. Their stares locked together as the lid came down.
Sam had to push Dean out of the way to secure the lid. And just in time too. The box almost immediately started shaking and rattling. Dean wasn’t sure if it was a blessing or a curse that the wardings blocked out any screams from inside the box.
It took everything Sam had to keep Dean away from that room, but eventually he passed out. Sam woke up to find Dean passed out next to the box. Several empty beer bottles surrounded him.
The box continued to thrash every day. For most of the day. And Dean barely left that room. He only left for more research material, coffee, and beer. He refused to let Sam keep him out.
After a while Sam couldn’t take it any more and he finally understood why Cas made him promise to bury the box. Dean hit him hard the night Sam told him, he can’t stay. We need to bury the box. The added weight of the dirt will help.
Something broke within Dean that night. Sam wasn’t sure what, but it was clear when Dean didn’t argue. Instead he got quiet. Don’t think too hard about it, Dean. I’ll do it. You don’t have to be there. I can do this for you.
And so Dean spent hours digging. They had to be sure no one would dig Cas up. They had to be sure there was enough dirt to add weight down on the lid. He refused to let Sam help until the box had to be lowered.
When Dean crumbled into a snot running, tear streaked, mumbled whispering mess, Sam knew that Dean had no idea that he was even there anymore. Sam did the only thing he could. He wrapped his arms around his brother and held onto him, trying to calm him. All he could hear was Dean’s whispers as he kept reaching for the half filled in hole. I’m sorry. I’m so damn sorry. Please don’t leave me. I’ll fix this. I’m sorry. I’ll fix this. I’m sorry, please. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.
Eventually exhaustion knocked Dean out and Sam carried him back to the impala, laying him down on the back seat. When Dean woke up he was still in the back of the impala, but it was at the bunker. He went racing to the room where the box had been, hoping the last part was just a dream. It wasn’t.
Sam kept trying to reassure him that they’d figure something out. Cas knew what he was agreeing to. The next thing Dean knew he was waking up under a pile of beer bottles…..again.
It was only a few days later when Sam had to talk Dean out of digging Cas up. It was a couple days after that, that Sam had a bad feeling in his gut when Dean left to go pick up a pizza. He took one of the other cars and found Dean digging. After that Sam had to hide all the shovels. Not that it helped. About a week later, Sam was so tired from trying to keep an eye on Dean. He felt asleep for a little while. Of course, he found Dean where they buried Cas. He was on his knees clawing at the dirt with his fingers. Drunk. Sobbing. Mumbling incoherent apologies.
Sam decided that night that he would hang onto the impala keys. Dean spent more of his time after that drunk. His moods wildly swung from anger to sobbing mess. Any time he looked at Sam it was becoming more and more strings of: Why did you let this happen? Why didn’t you just bury me in that damn box too?
It hadn’t been long since they buried Cas, but one of the days Dean wasn’t drunk. Sam was surprised until he found Claire at the bunker door. He told her to wait while he talks to Dean first. He was angry. She doesn’t need to know, Dean. This will hurt her.
She still deserves to know! She was texting, wondering why Cas wasn’t responding to her calls.
Upset, Sam went to sit in the library. Unfortunately the distance didn’t muffle the yelling. Where is he buried? No. Tell me. She didn’t take the news well. Why is it whenever you’re involved, I lose someone? Can’t you let me keep one damn person that I love?
Dean didn’t talk after that. Well…at least not out loud. Sam would find him around the bunker with his lips quietly moving. It never surprised him. Cas was the only person Dean wanted anyways.