Dean needed his overgrown little brother to hear this before it was too late. "I'm proud of us."
And he meant it.
The past decade hadn't been easy for either of them, but they'd stuck together. Dean had taken care of Sammy; he'd done his job. Dean heard Sam's calls fade as his eyes drifted closed, but he knew Sam would be just fine without him.
Dean slowly came back to himself with his cheeks being slapped repeatedly. As he groaned and clumsily attempted to knock the hand away, he distantly heard his name. "Dean?" That sounded like Sammy. "Dean, c'mon, wake up."
His head pounding, Dean ran his hand across his face. "Ugh, why am I wet?"
Dean could hear the smirk in Sam's reply. "You just passed out, I splashed you with holy water. It was all I had in the glovebox. Good news though, you're not possessed jerk."
"Bitch." Dean automatically replied to the insult as he opened his eyes, and stared wide-eyed at the sight in front of him.
"Dean?" Sam asked hesitantly as his brother paled, "What's going on?"
A range of possibilities ran through Dean's head. It could be a djinn, but that didn't really fit these circumstances. It could be a curse. Or maybe the angels were screwing with him? Demons were always a possibility too. Maybe he'd died and this was just an intro to his own personal version of hell. "Don't worry Sammy, we'll figure it out."
Dean looked into the worried eyes of his much younger brother. "I know, I just hate to leave if you have some kind of head injury from that hunt." Dean wondered what this version of himself had gotten him into. Sam took a long look at his brother and shook his head as if making a decision. "Call me if you find him? And maybe I can meet up with you later, huh?"
Dean knew this. He had already been here once before. Sitting in the Impala, he was dropping Sammy off outside of the Stanford campus apartments. And there was a good reason at Sammy looked so young and innocent, it was because he actually was. A quick glance at his reflection in the rear view mirror confirmed that Dean was just as baby-faced as his brother.
Sam was stepping out of the car before Dean realized he should say something. "Sam!" The boy stopped and turned, hoisting his bag further onto his shoulder. "We made a hell of a team back there." Dean spoke strongly, with a decade of memories behind the sentiment.
"Yeah, we did." Sam replied slowly, giving his brother an odd look. He nodded with finality before turning to walk away, back into his normal life.
Dean was wrapped up in his thoughts when heard the telltale flap of wings from the passenger seat. "Hello Dean."
Dean took a deep breath and shook his mind back into focus. "Cas, man, what the hell is going on." He tried not to let desperation seep into his voice, but failed miserably. "Metadouche stabbed me, I passed out, and suddenly I'm Marty freakin McFly?"
"Dean," Cas began, slightly irritated, "you know I don't understand that reference." Dean's expression softened at this small piece of familiarity. "First of all, you didn't pass out. You died." Cas paused for a reaction, but Dean simply nodded for him to continue. "But the Mark of Cain brought you back to the point when you and Sam began your journey together. I believe this is what you would call a 'do-over.'" Cas' use of air quotes undermined the seriousness of his statement, and Dean couldn't contain his eye roll. "Dean, the Mark burned itself out bringing you back to the time when your soul was brightest."
Cas calmly watched as Dean rolled up his sleeve and stared at the smooth skin underneath. He angled the rear view mirror to better see his own young face, and touched the round curves of his face that should have been angles and wrinkles. The emotional damn that had been building inside him suddenly burst, and the ridiculousness of the situation hit him full-force. Dean really did try to control his hysterical laughter, but it got worse when Cas looked at him with the head tilt/squint of confusion combo.
"Dean," the serious tone of Cas' voice brought him out of his own head and back to the current reality. "I must ask what happens between us now. Our intended introduction is not until three years from now, plus of course forty years in hell," Dean tried to glare, but it was undermined by the obvious fear of returning to hell, "but I would like to continue our current relationship if you would not object to it."
"Continue our current relationship, huh?" Dean clasped Cas' shoulder in an entirely masculine and platonic way, and then winked at him. "I'll have to figure out how to explain this to Sammy, but, let's face it buddy, you're stuck with me."
The corners of Cas' mouth twitched, but fell again as he gazed out the window. "Pray to me when Sam is feeling better, and we can discuss what we will tell him."
"When Sam's feeling better? Why would..." Dean's sentence trailed off as he followed Cas' gaze toward the building on their right. One window glowed with the unmistakable flicker of fire, and Dean suddenly remembered what would happen, what was happening now. "Jessica, no," he breathed, before turning to launch himself out of the car. "SAMMY!"
"Some events cannot be changed," Cas acknowledged guiltily as he watched Dean disappear into the building.