Or a mark of any kind (as it would in that case have been addressed), despite the fact that Cas pulled him out as well?
That fact kind of makes me shiver as I rewatch this episode.
And it makes me think that this “profound bond” was something chosen between the two of them, that Dean let Cas mark him, when he saved him. So yeah, headcanon superpowers of mine are telling me they fell for each other in Hell.
So I’ve thought WAY too much about this over the past few months, and I think in Dean’s case, I think Cas left the print because he wanted everyone — angels, demons, God — to know who had pulled Dean from Hell. It was a way of reminding Dean of his place, but in retrospect, I think it was also matter of pride for Cas. Dean was his charge, and thus Cas’s handprint meant ownership and claiming what was uniquely his, possibly for the first time in the angel’s existence. (After all, what does an angel know of property and ownership?)
In Soulless’s Sam’s case, however, he wanted just the opposite. He hid the fact that he pulled Sam from the Cage as long as he could, and only divulged the secret when he had no other choice. So it only makes sense he wouldn’t leave his John Hancock on Sam anywhere easily discovered.
But that aside, you can’t ignore the obvious Biblical allusion of Dean’s handprint, because seriously:
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm: for love is as strong as death; its jealousy is cruel as the grave: its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.”
- Song of Solomon 8:6**
IMO, that one verse from the Song of Solomon says it all. He most assuredly didn’t know it yet, but as soon as Cas laid a hand on Dean in Hell, he was lost.
Cas calls it “a more profound bond”, and okay, sure, whatever you want to call it, dude. But Dean has a seal on his heart (Cas’s markings on his ribs) and a seal on his arm (Cas’s handprint), and honestly, I just don’t know how Destiel gets more canon than that.
**The use of “jealousy”, in the original, is a synonym for “loyalty” or “inexorable devotion”, rather than “greedy possessiveness” — hence why it’s likened to the “jealousy” of death, the only thing in life that is sure for everyone. And when you realize that, I think the quote fits even more — because what are Dean and Cas if not loyal to each other, as loyal as death to the living?