It’s late, Sam’s sleeping otherwise Dean would not be on his beloved laptop. He’s sitting on his bed, in the dark, when he sees a file titled ‘Cas.’
Dean clicks, and there are pictures he’s never seen before-pictures of Dean smiling, or Sam wrestling Dean to the ground. In every picture, they look happy, Dean and Sam. There are even a few of Bobby and he doesn’t look angry. But Dean doesn’t get why the file has Cas’ name on it. They aren’t pictures of him to be found.
He was wrong, he manages to find one-one single, solitary picture that Castiel managed to take of himself. He’s in his coat, and he’s smiling. Behind him, Dean, Sam, and Bobby are oblivious, but it doesn’t matter because Castiel’s smile is so huge, and Dean finally understands. There is only one picture with a name in the entire folder, and it’s that one. It says ‘Family.’
And Dean gets it, because in that moment when the picture was taken, the apocalypse didn’t matter, Lucifer didn’t matter, none of it did, and Dean gets it, and it hurts.
They didn’t have conversations about it, not really, but Castiel is their family. And they are messed up and broken, but they’re good, and now-well now it’s different. Dean likes Castiel as a cat, how could he not? But it’s not right because the kitten doesn’t call him on his shit like Cas did. And, god help him, but Dean wants his friend back.
Dean sighs, long and weary when the little kitten jumps on the keyboard. He lays there like he belongs there, and Dean thinks he always has. There’s a look on the cat’s face when he looks at Dean, and it’s different than anything he’s ever seen a cat do. It’s what he assumes is a smile, but the eyes are all wrong. The cat, his friend, looks defeated, pained, and sad.
He picks Cas up, brings him close to his chest, and just holds on. “We’re gonna get you back, I’m gonna get you back. I swear it, Cas. I’ll make this right.” If his voice cracks by the end of it, well Sam is too busy sleeping to hear it.
Dean just hopes he can keep that promise. He hates lying to family.