The frigid arctic air was filled with the sounds of terrified screams and splashes as Castiel frantically tried to keep his head above the dark water. His breath came out in frenzied gasps, forming as white mist in the air.
“D-Dean! Dean, w-where are you?!”
Castiel spun around in the freezing water, his teeth chattering as he called out. The Titanic had sunk beneath the surface of the ocean only moments ago, and it was then, when he and Dean were frantically kicking for the surface, that they were separated.
All Castiel could do was try and stay afloat with the other people around him, turned rabid and crawling over one another in vain attempts to stay above the water. One of the officers who had survived had begun to blow his whistle, the shrill noise piercing above the cacophony as he clung to debris.
After a few minutes of calling out, Castiel was starting to lose hope of ever finding Dean, when suddenly his head was forced underwater. Taken completely by surprise by the force, Castiel exhaled a cloud of bubbles into the water. He paddled frantically and managed to get his head above the water briefly to see a set of hands clambering on top of him, forcing him under again. His lungs burned as he tried to hold his breathe for as long as he could, trying to come back to the surface. But he couldn’t. Castiel’s limbs were going numb from the cold, and his vision was starting to black out.
Suddenly, the force was gone, and Castiel’s head resurfaced, coughing and sputtering sea water.
“Get off of him!”
Castiel opened his eyes to see Dean pushing the passenger away, and relief flooded his body. Dean swam over and grabbed Castiel’s arm.
“Are you alright, Cas?”
Castiel managed a shaky nod and Dean said, “C-come on. This way!”
Dean started to swim away from the main group of people, Castiel swimming close behind. His legs were heavy, and Dean, the stronger swimmer of the both of them, helped him more than he should’ve had to. After a few minutes, Dean swam up to a large piece of wreckage drifting idly in the waves. As Castiel got close, he realized it was a large door.
“G-get on,” Dean ordered, not waiting for a reply as he grabbed Castiel by his lifejacket and tried to hoist him up. Castiel grabbed the edge of the door and shakily pulled himself out of the water. The door sunk slightly, but managed to stay afloat as Castiel stretched out across it. He turned to face Dean, who was resting on the edge of the door with his arms, the rest of his body still in the water. Castiel shivered and took one of Dean’s hands, grasping it as firmly as he could with his numb fingers, their faces inches away from each other.
“W-well, when we get rescued, I’m definitely g-going to write a strongly worded letter to the W-white Star Line about this,” Dean said jokingly as he leaned his head on his arms, his whole body shaking.
Castiel looked down at Dean and said, “You’re getting on too.” He started to scoot over on the door to make room for Dean, and an edge of it rose up out of the water, threatening to flip the wreckage over.
Dean placed a firm hand on Castiel’s shoulder and said, “No. It won’t hold both of us. S-stay where you are.” Castiel’s eyes widened slightly.
“No buts,” Dean interrupted stubbornly. “Stay... just stay there.”
Castiel froze in place, and his eyes locked with Dean’s, bright green even in the midnight dark. There was something in those determined eyes that unsettled Castiel.
He’s willing to die.... Castiel realizes. He’s willing to die for me.
That’s when he shakes his head and pulls himself forward on the door, preparing to enter the frigid water once again.
“Hey! C-cas, what’re you doing,” Dean asked as he pushed back on Castiel’s shoulder, trying to hold him back from the water’s edge.
With the same determined look, Castiel gazed at Dean and replied, “No. I’m not going to let you die for me, Dean. If there isn’t enough room on here for both of us, then I’m getting off.”
“No,” Castiel said firmly as he pulled himself closer to the edge of the door. “Either we b-both live or we both die, Dean. I’m n-not going to live without you.” Castiel could feel Dean's eyes searching his face, trying to see if he was serious, and he added, “So, if you want me to live, t-then get up here.”
There was a small pause, then Dean finally gave in and said, “Ok... M-move over very slowly.”
Castiel did as he was told and slid back onto the door, firmly grasping both of Dean’s hands and pulling him out of the water and onto their little sanctuary. For a sickening moment, the door sank further into the water, and Dean and Castiel both held their breath. Castiel clutched Dean's shirt, terrified that Dean would be thrown off the door and back into the freezing water. But, thankfully, the door barely stayed afloat.
“I’ll be damned,” Dean murmured in astonishment, and Castiel huddled into Dean's chest. He took both of Dean’s hands into his own, trying to warm them as much as he could despite the fact that his own were just as cold.
Castiel examined Dean as they laid next to each other. Dean’s skin was pale, his lips blue, his wet clothes were clinging to his skin, and his wet hair was starting to freeze solid in the frigid air. But, despite all this, and the fact that they were currently stranded in the middle of the Atlantic, Castiel was...happy. They were both alive.
“N-now, all we have to do is wait,” Castiel said, a small smile crossing his lips as he tried to sound as optimistic as he could. “Someone will come.... s-someone will find us.”
Dean smiled and kissed Castiel’s hands. “Yeah. We’re going to be alright...”
Castiel lost track of how long they had drifted. It could have been minutes, hours, days.... But it felt like years..... like an eternity. The air, once filled with the screams of terrified passengers and the officer’s frantic whistle blowing, had grown eerily silent. Castiel held Dean in his arms, pulling him as close as he could to try and keep him warm with what little body heat he had left. He was so cold, so numb, that he didn’t even have the strength to shiver anymore. Castiel felt his eyelids grow heavy, as if there were lead weights attached to them, but he knew he couldn’t fall asleep.
If I do, I won’t wake up.
Dean knew this as well, so he talked. Constantly. He told Castiel all about how when they were rescued, they’d find Sam over in America and go someplace warm. They’d find someplace to live, far away from his 'psycho-mom' and 'Frankenbride Meg', as he put it. Just the two of them. Every now and then Castiel would nod, say yes, or add his own thoughts, hanging on every word that Dean said like they were a lifeline. Anything to stay awake.....
“H-hey, have you ever been to Georgia, Cas?” Dean’s voice was barely above a hoarse whisper, but loud enough for Castiel to hear.
“I went there with Sam once when we were kids. That’s where we’ll go. It’s really nice there. There’s no s-snow, no cold... just warm beaches and sunshine. A-and there’s a nice pub called Stella’s in downtown Atlanta that makes the best pie in the States... H-how’s that sound?”
“That s-sounds lovely, Dean.”
“We’ll find a n-nice little shack on the beach, that way we can swim in the ocean and lounge on the sand in the sun. Far away from society, j-just the two of us... ”
“Yes, Dean... I’d l-like that...”
Castiel briefly looked up from Dean, scanning the horizon for any sign of help. A boat, a flare, anything... But the only thing he saw was darkness, and the faint silhouettes of lifeless bodies floating in the water. Castiel knew there were lifeboats out there somewhere. What he didn’t understand was why they weren’t coming to help. Why weren't they looking for survivors?
Castiel looked back down at Dean, and his breathe caught in his throat. Dean’s green eyes had closed, and he had grown silently still...
“D-dean?” Castiel shook Dean gently in his arms. “Hey, d-don’t do this now... Dean, wake up.”
Dean’s eyes barely opened, and Castiel lifted Dean's chin with one hand so that he could look him in the eyes as he spoke, and placed the other on Dean's shoulder.
“I know it’s hard, Dean, but you can’t fall asleep. When they find us, and we get all warmed up, then we can sleep as much as we want.”
Dean’s eyes started to drift closed, and Castiel shook him again, harder this time.
“Dean! Remember what I said. E-either we both live or we both die. It’s all or nothing, so don’t you dare close your eyes! D-don’t you dare!”
Dean opened his eyes again, weakly grabbing Castiel’s wrist and gently squeezing it as he said, "I won't let go if you don't..."
“Yes, Dean,” Castiel encouraged, squeezing Dean's shoulder. “I know it’s hard, but you n-need to stay with me, ok? I won't let go....”
Castiel leaned in and gently rested his head against Dean’s forehead.
“Don’t ever let go....”
Dean smiled weakly, and gave Castiel a small kiss on the lips. His lips were numb, so he couldn’t actually feel it, but that was all Castiel needed.
Suddenly, a bright white light briefly flashed across Castiel’s eyes, forcing him to blink.
The voice sounded gargled, like a transmission coming in through a broken radio. Castiel thought he was hallucinating, the final acts of a dying mind, but then he heard it again. This time, it rang out much clearer.
“Is anyone alive out there?!”
That’s when Castiel realized that the light was actually the beam of a flashlight, and there was the faintest sound of oars being pulled through the water. Castiel raised his head and squinted, seeing the little white lifeboat rowing through the water and the bodies. He felt a smile spread across his face as he glanced back at Dean.
"Dean, there's a boat...."
Castiel weakly pushed himself onto one of his elbows, seeing the little lifeboat a little clearer now. It was rowing right past them, maybe ten yards away...
Castiel tried to call out to the men in the boats, but his voice only came out as a ragged whisper, his voice cracking slightly from the effort.
His voice came out somewhat stronger that time, but it still wasn't enough for the men in the boat to hear him and they continued to row past. Castiel began to panic. He didn't want their only chance of survival to literally pass them by...
"The whistle..." Dean whispered, and Castiel looked down at him. "We.... we need to blow the whistle. That should get their attention.... Where is it?"
Castiel looked around them and saw the officer's body floating a few feet away, frozen to the wreckage he held onto in his last moments of life. The whistle was still in his frozen lips....
"I see it, Dean. It's right over there..."
As Dean slowly brought himself onto one of his elbows, Castiel said, "We're going to have to swim for it, Dean...."
Dean wearily looked over to their objective and sighed, "Aw, and just when I got all dry..."
Castiel couldn't help but appreciate Dean's sense of humor, even now, when things seemed to grow more dire by the second. As Castiel leaned forward on the door and prepared himself, the back edge of the door suddenly and violently rose up out of the water and sent both Dean and Castiel sliding into the frozen ocean once again.
"Oh shit," Dean cursed as he landed in the water, Castiel only letting out a startled gasp as he did the same.
Castiel's limbs had grown sluggish after being immobile for so long, and he had some difficulty staying above the water. But once again, Dean grabbed his life jacket and tried to pull him along. Castiel was surprised by Dean's sudden burst of strength, and this reinvigorated him as well.
After about thirty seconds of paddling in the black water, Dean and Castiel reached their target. Castiel pulled the whistle out of the officer's mouth and brought it to his own. The first puff of air he blew into the whistle produced a meager sound, but as he breathed in again, it made a much louder call.
"That's it, Cas," Dean said, clinging to the wreckage and Castiel. "Get their attention...."
Castiel continued to blow the whistle, and they both blinked a few times as the flashlight beam fell on their frozen forms.
"There! Bring 'er about, men! Hold on! We're coming!"
Castiel saw the little life boat slowly start to spin around, and he continued to blow the whistle. When he felt the warm, strong hands of the crewmen lift him and Dean out of the water and replace the whistle with a mountain of blankets, Castiel thought that he had died and gone to heaven. Warmth very slowly started to seep back into his body as he and Dean huddled close together under the newfound safety of their blanket mountain.
"Hey," Dean whispered, getting Castiel's attention. He looked at Dean and saw that their hands were still connected. Not once, during this entire ordeal, had they been separated.
"We didn't let go," Dean smiled as he leaned in close to Castiel's face, his breath once again warm against his cheeks. They were hidden from the crew's view by the blankets, so Castiel pulled Dean in and kissed him passionately on the lips. When he pulled back, Castiel gazed at Dean and whispered, "And I'll never let you go again, Dean... No matter what happens now."
Dean grinned and they both leaned in closer as he whispered, "Sounds good to me."