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27 February 2010 @ 09:28 am
Random Dean  

Twenty days. It's been twenty days since the world was supposed to end. Dean's still waking up in the morning amazed that it came at all. He and Sam are staying at a bed and breakfast not because there's a ghost there, not because they're solving some amazing mystery, but just because it's nice to stay there. It's an indulgence he's never had time for before. The B&B is in the western hills of Virginia, near the Shenandoah Valley, and it looks out over a flat stretch of farms and distant mountains.

When he wakes up, he checks on Sam. Still sleeping. Sam took things harder than Dean. He had more to fight off. And he made it, but by the skin of his teeth, and now he's exhausted. That's why they've been here for twenty whole days. Sam needs to recuperate. And Dean needs to be there for him, with him.

Still, Sam spends a lot of time sleeping, or just writing and reading, trying to find his way back to the normal, regular guy he used to be, or used to think he was before truth upon truth poured onto him like acid, corroding his sense of who he was. Dean still wishes he could have thrown his body in the path of that truth, spared Sam from having to deal with it. But for now he at least has the hope that it can be overcome. Sam survived the ultimate evil. Anything else in his blood can surely be overcome in comparison.  And Dean would like to believe that for all his weakness, Sam will come out of this stronger, more sure of himself than he has been. He needs to know he can survive. Not just the apocalypse, but the aftermath. And Dean will be there every step of the way, helping him climb over each obstacle as it arises. Sam will never be without him again.  That's the commitment he's made.

But who will be there for Dean?

The lady who runs the B&B is named Maddie, and she's rotund, warm and full in all the right ways. Her husband is a squat woodcutter, and together they're a square and a circle, round and straight together. Dean likes them, likes their folksy way of speaking. They're old friends of Bobby's from way back when, and when Bobby suggested they go up and spend time with them, Dean had expected old hunters. Not so. Maddie and George were nothing but regular people. Regular, respectable people, and they didn't have a clue what had just happened very nearly under their noses.

"I understand you boys have been through something," Maddie had said, and when Dean had laughed and said yeah, just the end of the world, Maddie had looked at him with sympathetic eyes. "Now. I know it feels that way, but trust me, a few weeks up here and you'll feel right as rain again. That's the magic of these mountains. They'll set you right, son. I promise."

Dean had been surprised, but when he thought about it, it made perfect sense. Of course Bobby wouldn't have them staying with hunters. That was the last thing they needed right now. They needed to recuperate, they needed time off, they needed space. They needed to remember they were still humans first. And slowly but surely, that's what they'd been doing.

There were times when a sound woke him up at night and he jumped and went for his gun. But he was learning to let sounds happen. Let bumps in the night do their bumping, and let shadows creep and fears fade, and just be.

He thought that he might be able to get used to it. To being a civilian. This was the end of his road as a hunter, after all. It had always been that way. He was supposed to fight the ultimate fight, and he had. And it was time to say goodbye to it all. Finally break the chain of the legacy that his mother had wanted so badly to spare them. To keep them from being hunters.

He owed it to her to try. Try to be normal.

Sam was dreaming. Dean could see him tossing. The dreams still wouldn't leave him alone, not as long as he still slept. Dean wanted to cry watching him. Why couldn't he reach into his brother's mind, wrestle out the nightmares, wring them dry of fear and throw them away? He honestly considered trying to find a psychic who could take him in there and rescue Sam from the dreams. But Sam didn't remember them in the morning, and that, Dean supposed, was better than the alternative. They said you weren't supposed to wake someone up when they were having a nightmare, because if you did they'd remember it. And if there was a chance Dean could make Sam suffer more through his intervention, then, well, he didn't want to risk it. Better that Dean bear the pain of watching him, and keep it to himself. It wasn't the first secret he'd kept, and it wouldn't be the last.

Dean sometimes went into a funk. He looked out the window and saw the landscape torn up with fire, as it had when everything had gone sour. He saw the sky turn red and the dark smoke of demons blot out the horizon on every side. He remembered swinging the sword of an archangel and he remembered saying no when it mattered, and the world flashing, and a cry, and fire, and then nothing.

And now here he was.

Maddie brought him breakfast where he sat, and he grinned at her and thanked her. The pancakes were slathered with thick syrup and the bacon melted hot and salty on his tongue, and he felt a little bit less alone. It was nice to be here, be pampered. He knew that Maddie watched him sometimes with worried eyes, and that she asked George after she thought they were asleep what he thought those two had been through that was so difficult that they couldn't talk about it even after twenty days. But this was still his job, even if he'd stopped hunting. To keep the truth away from people like her. To keep their lives comfortable and safe. Normal. So he would never speak.

And so he was stuck. Here, with an emotionally crippled brother on the one hand and two civilians on the other, burning up inside and wanting nothing more than someone to talk to.

He called Bobby sometimes, talked on the phone with him until all hours of the night. If it weren't for Bobby, Dean didn't know where he'd be. Bobby was his father, for all intents and purposes, and their bond was tight enough that Dean know that even John Winchester would have no problem smiling and nodding and acknowledging that. 

But Dean needed a friend as well as a father.

He needed Castiel.

Castiel had left without a word. When it was all over, they'd knelt by him as as light had faded from his eyes, and his hand had been cold as it touched Dean's. Dean's eyes had met Sam's, and the two of them had known this was goodbye. Whether Castiel was dying, whether he was returning to Heaven or going somewhere else entirely, they weren't sure. It was just that there was a glitter of stardust, and the sky had lit up, and then he was gone. 

Dean had cried and turned his palms up to the sky, and he'd watched a shooting star slide across the firmament and thought he hoped it was Cas, and he hoped Cas was returning home. Sam had been misty-eyed too, but when Dean had called him on it Sam had said he was happy that Cas had found his way back.

Dean had nodded. They'd both reveled in the lie that those were happy tears. But they weren't. The two of them were humans, and they were selfish creatures, and that meant they were crying because they were lonely and for no other reason. They missed him. Dean missed him. With every breath he took, he missed him. His chest ached with the knowledge that a companion he'd once had was no longer in this world. And likely would never be again.

He'd thought, once in a while, about the possibility of summoning him back. Using that first spell they'd tried. Of course, he wasn't sure Castiel had first appeared because of that spell or because he wanted to. He'd said we need to talk, after all. He probably had come of his own volition. And the spell was meant for a demon.

And every day was a bad day to try, anyway. Every day he had to watch Sam suffer, make sure he rested, make sure he was doing all right. And then Sam would settle down, and Dean would watch him fall asleep, and be left alone. Alone to heal the hurt in his own heart by himself. As usual.

Damn it, he could use his guardian angel back.

This morning, twenty days after Castiel had left the earth, Dean went outside and stood, his boots damp with dew on the grass, and looked up at the sky. The clouds hung so low here, because the ground was higher, of course. But Dean also felt like some strange gravity was pulling the sky to the earth today. And he looked up and thought, if he opened his arms, could he catch a cloud? If he prayed, and if he asked, could he bring a star down to earth to stand beside him again? What was the right spell for bringing a friend back to your side?

He'd lost friends before. It was always final. By death or by argument or by a wrong that he committed or that was committed against him, it was always final. There was no pleading for forgiveness. Friends moved on, and you were alone again. And you went and built new friendships, and that was how life worked.

But he just didn't have the energy to do that anymore. He didn't want new friends. He wanted Castiel back. He wanted  something he couldn't have.

He looked up at the heavy sky and sighed.


He looked around to see if he was being watched. He wasn't about to start talking to the sky in front of anyone.

"It's not the same without you, man. I don't know what to do here without you. I thought you were such a charity case, but... you were something. And I don't think I told you that until it was too late, did I?" He kicked the grass. Muddy clumps of dirt unearthed a trio of worms.  "Sorry about that. Really, I am. There's a lot I should have said to you while you were here."

He glanced up at the sky. The clouds stood unmoving and heavy. A shaft of sunlight was trying its damnedest to break through, but it was cut short, a half a sunbeam without an outlet to take it to the ground. Dean thought maybe he could meet it halfway. And then he laughed at himself for thinking such a thing.

"I'm normal now. Hard to believe, huh? I'm totally normal. Nobody needs me for anything. Hell, I don't even hunt monsters anymore. And, you know, that's all right. That's how I always expected this to end, you know? Either the job would kill us or we'd leave while we still could. I guess we managed to get out while we still could. Go us."

He laughed. "Well. I'm normal. Sam's still having a tough time of it, you know? But he's getting there. He's getting better. I wish--"

He walked across the lawn, found the bark of an oak tree that climbed halfway into the sky. He wasn't strong or sure enough to climb it, but he thought, if this were the world in his mind, maybe he could reach up from the top of the tree and touch that struggling sunbeam in his hands. For now, he just leaned against the bark, felt the cold soft rot of it beneath his palms, and continued to talk. "I wish you were around," he said, closing his eyes to make the wish more fervent. "I wish you were still here for me to talk to. To look at me the way you did and say something so straightforward that it made me feel stupid for not thinking of it first. I wish you were around to not get my references, you know? And then we could have a movie marathon and you could learn all the crap I was talking about. Now that we're not fighting any more, we'd have all the time we wanted to go through that stuff. I'd show you Mad Max and Terminator and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. You'd like that one. Heh." He leaned against the bark now, turning so his back pressed into the wet trunk. His chin tilted upward toward heaven. "You and I could have had such a damn good time. Seriously. We could have been such good--"

And then he felt the tears coming, and he swallowed hard. But he was safe and sheltered. The tree would keep his confidences. The tree wouldn't tell.

"We could have been something," he said. "I was pretty much in love with you by the time you left. You knew that, right? That's why you held my hand. You were always a lot smarter than I gave you credit for. Hell, you figured it out before I did. But I get it now. I loved you. I did. And you were my best friend. You were my best friend, and I loved you, and I want you back, damn it."

His foot came down, hard, against the bark of the tree.

The sound it made was hollow. Metallic, even. His eyes flew open.

The sunlight was pouring down, streaming. The clouds had parted and stopped time along with them. Leaves and blades of grass were unmoving. The sunbeams had hardened into bright yellow shafts of solid light.

"Is this a dream?" he said quietly. His voice echoed as though he'd shouted it to the hills.

He looked toward the front of the house. On the other side of the kitchen window, Maddie was frozen in mid-flip of a pancake.

"Cas," he whispered. "Cas, please let this be you. Please. God, I can't stand anything else."

"It is," said a voice.

Dean turned. Trembling. Not daring.

He was looking at light. A figure, a column of light in the shape of a man. Light dimming now, the radiance fading, colors forming. A trench coat. But it was white. His whole outfit was white. His hair was even white. It was the light. It suffused every inch of him. Only his eyes remained sparkling sapphire blue.
pandapandatini on February 27th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)



*wipes away happy tear*
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on February 27th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)

thank you honey
Kevin Jonesmulder200 on February 27th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Ah! Poor Dean. You could feel his sorrow and pain and tiredness. But the ending with his reunion with Cas? Beautiful.
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on February 27th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
yeah. i figure he's probably wicked exhausted. never really finished writing the ending, but what the hell :)