“Thank you,” Sam whispered.
“You know who you really are,” said Sophie. “Do not forget again.”
“Never,” said Sam, and when Sophie looked at him Dean said, “Never,” too.
“You’ve learned something it takes others decades to understand,” said Maya. “All life is connected. All life is precious. All life depends on each other.”
“I understand,” said Dean, and Sam nodded and whispered, “I understand.”
“Castiel,” Dean said, getting to his feet. “He was hurt –”
“Go and tend to him,” Celine said, “but remember, the cup can only heal. It can’t give back what was taken away.” She reached for Lorcan Murphy’s head and gently closed its eyes, and its mouth stopped chanting and went slack at last. She picked up the head and cradled it in her arms, and in a puff of ash it disappeared. She gave the dish to Sam. “Take the treasures and put them in the cathedral. They will be safe there until they’re needed again. Now go, quickly.”
“Thank you,” Dean said again, and in a blink the castle was gone, as were the Fishers. There was nothing in the courtyard but the briefcase, a small pile of ash where Lorcan Murphy’s body had been, and Castiel.
Dean ran across the labyrinth, no walls in his way now, and knelt at his side. “Cas,” he said and held the cup to Castiel’s lips. “Castiel. Wake up. Drink this, Cas.” He poured a little water into Castiel’s mouth, and it dibbled down his chin. “Cas, please,” Dean begged and felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up, expecting Sam — but it was Zachariah instead, looking down at him with something like compassion. “You,” Dean said, narrowing his eyes at him.
“Me,” Zachariah said mildly. “We knew you could do it, Dean.”
“Bring him back,” Dean said, pointing to Castiel. “I want him back. You owe me.”
“Some things are beyond even our power,” Zachariah said gently. “I’m sorry.”
“No,” Dean said, and Sam joined them, the briefcase in his arms and troubled expression on his face. “He wants to be with me. I know he does.”
“I have to take him back with me,” Zachariah said. “You forget, Dean. He disobeyed. The rules are pretty clear on what happens now.” He stooped and touched Castiel’s forehead, and with that touch Castiel disappeared, leaving only a dark imprint on the wet pavement.
“Fuck you,” Dean said, his eyes filling. “Fuck you and your rules. He loves me. He wants a life and I want him to have a life, I want a life with him –” Sam put an arm around him and Dean pressed his face to Sam’s shoulder a moment, overwhelmed with grief.
“I’ll bear that in mind,” Zachariah said and was gone.
Sam rubbed Dean’s back slowly while Dean wept. Behind them, the cathedral bells began to ring, a deep, solemn sound. Sam said, “Looks like the service is over.”
Dean looked up — the congregation was coming out of the church, blinking at the late afternoon sunshine that peeped through the clouds. “Yeah,” he muttered and wiped his face with his sleeve. “Better go put this stuff in their new home.”
“Yeah.” Sam paused. “Hey. Dean.” Dean looked at him, and Sam said awkwardly, “I . . . I didn’t mean it.”
“You meant it,” Dean said wearily. “You meant every word. But you know what? I meant it too. I love you, Sammy.”
Sam’s face crumpled and he hugged Dean close for a moment, and then got to his feet and held out a hand to help Dean up.
They walked up the steps to the cathedral, where the clergywoman was bidding goodbye to the parishioners as they left. Everyone was silent as they came through the door and went down the steps, and a few of the parishioners gave Sam and Dean a puzzled look as they went past. Dean supposed they were a strange sight, crumpled and rain-soaked.
When the last of the congregation was gone Dean went to the clergywoman and said, “Um,” realizing how crazy what they had to say would sound.
“How can I help you? I’m afraid you’ve missed the liturgy.”
“Can we talk to you for a few minutes?” Sam said.
“Certainly. Come with me.” She led them into the cathedral and down the main aisle. The nave was quiet, nearly deserted, with only a few volunteers putting away hymnals and picking up discarded programs. The clergywoman took them to her office and gestured to them to sit. “Now,” she said, folding her hands on her desk. “What can I do for you?”
“We’re –” Sam began, and then held out the briefcase. “I think we’re supposed to give this to you.”
She looked at them, puzzled, and then took the briefcase and popped open the locks. She didn’t look any less confused when she saw what was inside. “Are you sure these are for me?”
“They belong to the cathedral now,” Dean said. “Or the cathedral belongs to them. It’s one of those things where it’s hard to tell.”
“I had a dream last night,” she said softly. “I dreamed about a wounded man in a burned forest, and there was a man in a raincoat . . .” She looked up from the briefcase. “He told me to expect you.”