Chapter 1"Dean, as sad as it makes me, Cas is not going to make it." Tessa tried to talk some sense into him.
Dean refused to even think of it, even though by now Cas was in and out of his own little world. Dean tried to get through to him but he didn't seem to notice he was there. Once Gabriel had called for him Dean came at once but Cas was out of it when he was there. Dean had hardly left Cas's beside but only once had Cas come out of his head, on what some doctors called his Last Good Day, a term often used in stage IV cancer 'survivors', he acknowledged Dean with elated surprise and got so excited the doctors made Dean leave because Cas's pulse quickened above a good level. There was nothing really to do except read to Cas. He told all the stories of everything he had done since he left Cas 3 years ago. He won a lot more motorcycle races, but those didn't really matter to him anymore. Dean had mostly gotten over the PTSD but the war had taken a lot from him, more than his hobbies. It had taken his life, and evedentually, the life of someone he cared about very much. Dean had gone from his crap-paying job to working full time at Bobby's and he moved from his old place into a house. It was like a one that he and Cas dreamed about having, white picket fence, away from the chaos of the city and into the serenity of the country. It was closer to the beachfront than the old apartment was. He bought that house subconsciously, thinking about Cas without even knowing. His life had become a subconscious thing. He ate, work, slept, and raced when Bobby insisted that he try to do something, all without even thinking. Dean did not know how much he missed Cas until he was gone, and the only thing that kept him going in the continuous loop was knowing that Cas was safe. Getting that call from Gabriel was like someone stabbed him in the heart and twisted as hard as they could. It snapped him back to reality. Bobby understood and gave him as much time as he needed and Dean left. That was 2 weeks ago. He spent nights and days alike in the chair next to Cas's bed without fail and the nurses had given up on moving the veteran from the seat. Instead, Cas's main nurse, Tessa bonded with Dean. Cas was Tessa's favorite patient and before he had fallen into the recesses of his mind he talked to Tessa a lot. This was all before Dean came but him being there so long the nurses spread gossip and news to him as if he was one of their own. Even though Tessa tried to strengthen Dean's wall so it wouldn't hurt so much during the fall, the doctors gave him hope. Dean did not know whether it was false to make him 'feel better'or it was actually true but one of the doctors said, "Cas has been doing a lot better since you came. I can't explain it scientifically but I have long since stopped questioning the healing power of love. That sounded cheesy didn't it?" It did but Dean got to wondering. Cas had gotten better since he had gotten there. And being there himself he noticed some significant changes, like when he first came Cas was the shriveled husk of a person but now some of the color had returned to his skin and they scheduled to take the breathing ventilator in and put in a cannula. Most of the scheduled things were in hopes that Cas would recover but Dean regarded them as if they WERE going to happen.
"Hello Dean. How's Cas?"
"Normal. Why do you ask?"
"Well Jess and I were thinking of visiting," there was a pause on the line. "W-would that be ok?"
Dean sighed and there was another silence, an empty third space between them, the only noise a faint crackling.
"OK. When are you coming?"
"Tomorrow. Jess feels really bad about not seeing him in awhile, should we bring something? Anything?"
"Just you and Jess would be fine little brother." Dean said, and he split the line. His eyes returned to the hospital bed. It pained him to see his love like this but at least he was alive. His hand was warm, not cold, and so Dean took it and closed his eyes. He thought back to the first time he met Cas. That April party, the night of the milkshakes, so long ago. He thought of himself before the war, and was surprised by the vividness of the memory. Having a co-rememberer helped things along. Dean would rather not think of losing his co-rememberer. He felt as though Cas was standing next to him and talking, talking in his mind. Different from the shell of the person in front of him. The Cas before. Dean often thought whether Dean brought sadness or joy to Cas's life. The Cas in his head shouted at him, "OF COURSE I LOVED YOU! YOU WERE EVERYTHING TO ME! MY LIFE WAS NOTHING!" but Dean could only see the faults he brought on his love's life. He would never be in this mess, his sickness, he would be out there, living his life to the fullest with some good guy and studying in college.
"My doctor..." Dean whispered, his voice breaking. "This is all my fault I'm so sorry." He began to silently cry, that was the worst kind of crying. Not the loud sobbing that let everyone know how you feel, but often was over exaggerated, but the pain that was all inside your head. All you. With no one to help ease the pain, not a co-rememberer, nobody. The Cas in his head shouted as well but he faded to the back of Dean's mind. He became more focused on the Cas in front of him. The real Cas. The Cas that made Dean crumble a little on the inside every time he looked at what became and thought of what could have been. After a moment of silence Dean started another story. One that made Cas give a little sign of consciousness every time Dean told it. A flicker of an eyelid, the movement of finger. Little things, but they meant the world to Dean. Each time changing details here and there to make a different story to Cas's ears.
Much later, after the nurses checked on Cas and gave Dean dinner from the cafeteria, after the day nurses left and the night nurses filled in, after Dean fell asleep in the chair that became his bed, there was a whisper. Tinny and so quiet you couldn't hear it unless you were looking for it but a whisper nonetheless, a whisper. "Dean."