Author: Das Mervin and Mrs. Hyde
Betas: gehayi and kermit_thefrog
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Family
Word Count: 12,070
Rating: R for language, themes, and sexuality (SLASH)
Spoilers: Through the SPN Season 6 finale
Summary: The writing was on the wall. And now Dean just had to understand it. Set vaguely post-Season 7.
Author’s Notes: Hey, guys. Notice anything about this part? Oh, yeah. The word count is ridiculous. Yeah, it goes over the LJ word limits. As such, part two is in two parts, but I am posting them at the same time. Be sure to read them in the right order. Part II’s title is from the Led Zeppelin song “Communication Breakdown”. Anyway—let us go back in time! Let us find out what happened that night and why Sam had to talk Dean down, hmm? Believe me—it’s probably not what you think.
Disclaimer: “Supernatural” is the property of Kripke Enterprises and Warner Bros. Television, and no profit is being made from this work and no copyright infringement is intended.
PART II: COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN
The plan had been simple.
Keep his head down, don’t talk to anyone, avoid all eye contact. Get home, get him upstairs, shove him into the bathroom, tell him to clean up. All that would leave plenty of time for him to gather his thoughts and get his bearings back. Plenty of time to figure out just what the hell to ask him first without completely losing it.
Naturally, Cas would find a way to screw up something that uncomplicated, and manage it all just by falling over.
To be fair, Dean had managed to stick to the plan up to a point. Nobody had spoken to him or asked any questions, and he’d refused to look anyone in the eye. Bobby had been the one driving—it had felt strange, riding in the backseat of his own car, Cas slumped over and bleeding all over his jacket. But really, it turned out to have some advantages. Sam and Bobby were up in the front, so Dean didn’t have to worry about looking at them—or about them looking at him. Worrying about what they were thinking up there in their studied silence, however…well, that just came with the territory.
Once they’d gotten home, Dean had finally spoken, and it had been trouble-free—he’d roughly informed Sam and Bobby that Cas needed to be cleaned up and stitched up and that he’d be the one to take care of it. He’d not looked at them when he said it, but he could feel their eyes on him as he’d all but carried Cas into the house and up the stairs, and it had made his gut twist horribly. He’d had to swallow his natural inclination to whirl around and tell them in no uncertain terms what he thought of the looks they were giving him, not to mention just what they could do with them, but that wasn’t part of the plan. No—no talking. Not until he finally had a chance to sit down alone and just think.
Pretty much everything had gone just how he’d wanted it, right up until he’d dragged Cas into the bathroom.
He’d asked twice if Cas could stand up on his own and get undressed and cleaned up, and both times Cas had—well, he hadn’t exactly said yes, but he had nodded, dammit. And so Dean had let him go, wanting to stop touching him, and just as he’d started to turn to go and wait in the bedroom down the hall, he’d seen Cas teetering dangerously and had barely managed to catch him in time to keep him from bashing his skull open on the edge of the sink.
Gritting his teeth, he steered him over to the toilet, kicking the lid down and letting him collapse heavily onto it before straightening again—and then having to rush and lean right back down, his hands gripping Cas’s shoulders as he started to list, this time threatening to fall into the empty bathtub.
Dean sucked in a few breaths, closing his eyes and counting to three, and finally spoke to Cas again for the first time since—since before.
“You can’t clean up by yourself, can you,” he said flatly, not a question.
Cas didn’t move this time, just stared at Dean’s feet, but it was enough. Cas could barely sit up on his own, much less stand up to take a shower. Dean briefly contemplated just running a bath and throwing him in the tub, clothes and all, but realized that the great big load would probably just pass out and drown.
He stared at Cas. He was covered in dirt and ash and sweat and blood. Dean didn’t know where most of that blood was coming from, except for the crusted, half-dried trails running down his face and neck from his nose and ears and mouth. He needed to be patched up, and for that, he needed to be cleaned off.
And since he couldn’t do it himself…
Son of a bitch.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” he muttered, mostly to himself, dropping one of his hands and straightening up.
Dean was no stranger to bathing people—he’d been in charge of keeping Sam mostly clean when he was a kid, and of course had bathed him regularly when he was just a baby. Not only that, but he was a hunter, and that was just one of the parts of the job—he’d helped clean up both his dad and his brother after a bad fight when they’d needed it, and they’d returned the favor when it was his turn to get torn up by something nasty that left him half-dead. And, naturally, he’d bathed quite a few women in his time, under very different circumstances. But this…
He ran his hand over his face, glaring pointlessly at the sagging whatever-he-was-now sitting in front of him, and he so did not want to do this, especially not now. Not after that.
But there was nothing else to be done.
Dean suddenly felt stupid—he’d walked right up to Cas and spat in his eye when he had the power to turn him into a friggin’ grease spot not four hours ago, but he couldn’t just…get him undressed and shove him in a tub full of water? Fuck that, he thought viciously to himself. Keeping one hand on Cas to make sure he didn’t fall over again, he leaned down and twisted the taps, waiting for the slightly rusty water to run clear and start steaming before shoving the plug into the drain. Dean steeled himself, turned back to Cas, and then reached forward and started with the overcoat.
“Don’t just lay there like a goddamn slug,” Dean grunted. “Come on—get undressed.”
Cas finally looked up at him then, staring dully as Dean pushed his overcoat and jacket off of his shoulders at the same time. When he didn’t move, Dean met his eyes and gave him a little shake. “Come on, Cas. Just because you can’t stand up doesn’t mean you can’t take your clothes off. I’m not gonna friggin’ baby you!”
Cas only stared at him for a moment more before his he finally moved, helping Dean get his arms out of the coat and jacket before he feebly reached up and started tugging at his tie.
Peeling him out of his clothes was not fun—and it was slow. Dean had only managed to get him out of his shirt when he had to pause and shut the water off so that the tub didn’t overflow. The problem wasn’t just that Cas was completely useless right now—it was also that the blood oozing from the vast array of cuts all over him had dried, and so Cas’s shirt stuck to him like a stubborn band-aid; removing it just tore all his wounds open again. But he’d eventually gotten Cas out of it and tossed it on top of his coat and jacket, and now had dropped to his knees and jerked at Cas’s shoelaces.
He’d helped Cas get out of everything above the waist, but he’d be damned if he was gonna strip him out of his pants, too. Instead, he simply stood back up again before reaching forward and tugging on his bare and bruised arms. “Get up,” he ordered. “Take off the rest of it—I’ll help you stand.”
He came up easily enough, shuffling around his shoes and socks, and Dean just stood beside him, feeling horribly awkward with one arm around his skinny waist and his fingers on his flat stomach as Cas fumbled at his belt and buttons. He pointedly avoided watching, mostly just wondering what the hell was taking him so long. He listened to the whisper of clothes beside him, staring at the still water in the bathtub and the bar of soap on top of the washcloth on the edge, and then glanced over when he felt Cas stop moving.
Well, that was a mistake. Dean was already very aware that he had a naked dude hanging all over him, but actually seeing it was a bit more than he could take at the moment. Jerking his head away again, he pulled Cas with him, feeling him stumble out of the pants around his ankles, and shoved him to the edge of the tub even as he sagged and leaned against him.
“Get in,” Dean barked, wanting nothing more than to get Cas’s scrawny naked body off of his own.
Easier said than done. Cas didn’t seem to want to get in, and it wasn’t until Dean had managed to wrangle him into sitting down that he realized that he’d probably made the water too hot, and it couldn’t feel all that pleasant on the who-knew-how-many gashes and bruises he had all over his body. But he was in, and he’d get used to it, and was probably for the best to avoid everything getting infected; he wasn’t an angel anymore, after all, so he couldn’t just pop himself back into perfection.
Dean glanced over at the soap and back at Cas before sighing. He only gave Cas a brief warning of, “Hold your breath.” Cas blinked up at him, but then his eyes widened as Dean reached forward and pushed against his shoulders, and then he started flailing and panicking when he just dunked him, shoving his head under the water, too.
“Shit!” Dean yanked him back up as he splashed water all over the floor and down the front of his shirt and jeans. “What the hell, Cas?!” he yelled as Cas coughed and spluttered. “What are you, four?! Hold still!”
Cas’s choking subsided, and then he looked back up at Dean again. His hair was plastered flat against his head, fat droplets of water clinging to his eyelashes and dripping from his chin, and he just sat there, limp and motionless and wet. Dean pursed his lips and looked away, unable to even deal with that pathetically waterlogged sight. Counting three again, he finally turned back to Cas and grabbed the washcloth and soap.
Dean started at the top and began working his way down. Cas didn’t seem to have any serious head injuries beyond the array of cuts that of course bled more than they had a right to, so that was good—his hair was just full of mud and ash. He gave him a little more warning this time, mostly in the form of dire threats not to start thrashing, and doused him again to rinse the soap out of his hair. Then he soaped the rag back up and started roughly scrubbing at his back. Cas winced a lot, and Dean could see why—what, did souls leave exit wounds or something? Once he finished his back, he rinsed the rag in the sink before re-soaping it; the water was already a murky red-grey from all the blood and dirt and ash sloughing off of him.
Dean was about to start on his arms when he noticed that Cas was managing to sit up without having to be held up. That was enough for him. “Here,” Dean said gruffly, thrusting the rag at him. “Do your—the rest of yourself.”
When Cas’s shaking hand finally liberated him of the foamy cloth, Dean hove himself up quickly and went to sit on the still-closed lid of the can. He leaned his elbows on his knees, only watching Cas out of the corner of his eye to make sure he didn’t slump over and drown.
As Cas began finally cleaning himself on his own—well, that was a little too generous, he was more or less just patting himself, but Dean was past caring, so long as he wasn’t the one who had to do it—Dean used the relative silence to finally sit and do his thinking. Unfortunately, the only thing he could actually think about was Sam—both Sam and Bobby, really, both of them staring at him, staring at the way Cas’s fingers had clung to his jacket, his face buried against Dean’s chest—both of them staring at the blood he’d felt smeared on his mouth. Cas’s blood.
His hands clenched into fists. They were downstairs, just talking. God knew what Sam was saying—maybe he was confidently telling Bobby all about how he always knew his brother was a complete fruit. Or maybe it was Bobby telling Sam that part. Or maybe both of them were saying it. No doubt they both thought he was in the tub with Cas—
Dean pushed himself sharply backwards against the toilet tank, folding his arms tightly across his chest with more force than was necessary and pointedly not looking at Cas floundering around in the now near-black water. He’d just saved both their asses and probably the whole world, and all they cared about was how they thought he was gay. Never mind he didn’t start it, never mind he’d been just as freaked out—probably more, they weren’t the ones who got jumped by an angel!—never mind all the women he’d been with, no, no, he was now a friggin’ flamer and that was that, so oooh, let’s just sit downstairs and gossip. Yes, their priorities were clearly sorted out. Once more, he squashed the urge to storm down there and tell them both to blow him.
He felt his neck burn when he realized they’d probably throw that one right back in his face.
Dean suddenly became aware that the weak splashing had stopped. He blinked, looking down at the bathtub. Cas was just sitting there, and he was staring at him. He hadn’t made any effort to rinse himself off and so was still covered in grimy soapsuds. Dean’s mouth twisted as he got back up, uncomfortable as his wet jeans stuck to his legs. Well, he thought as he glanced down at the nasty water, he was about to get wetter.
“Get up,” he sighed, bending down and grabbing him under the arms after he yanked on the chain hung around the faucet and the water began to gurgle down the drain. Once Cas was back on his feet, Dean braced his arm against the wall of the shower and ordered him to hang onto it and stay standing. After angling the showerhead towards the wall, he managed to awkwardly lean down and started the shower this time. He didn’t even bother trying to get the water warm—he’d just run an entire tub full of very hot water, so Bobby’s tank probably hadn’t even begun to recover, anyway. Once more telling Cas to stand still, he grabbed the showerhead and twisted it back, aiming it right at him.
Any other time, Dean probably would’ve laughed at the pathetic intake of breath he heard when the cold water hit Cas. Instead, he just grimaced as his arm got soaked too, Cas clinging to him like a cat on a tree limb. He didn’t waste any time—after a few seconds on the front, he managed to get Cas turned around and let the cold shower splash down the back, too, and then he slammed off the water and dragged him out, carting him over to the towels.
He thrust one of the bigger ones into his hands and roughly dropped another one on his head. Dean huffed out an irritated breath through his nose and growled, “Wrap that around yourself, would you?” when Cas just held the towel limply in his hands, and then almost shouted, “Around your waist!” when it looked like he was about to try and drape it on his shoulders.
Cas did as he was told, albeit slowly and clumsily and all while leaning on Dean and getting him wetter and smearing more blood on him from the wounds that had reopened after having all that dirt and crusted blood washed off of them. Dean got an arm around his back again and, after detouring to the medicine cabinet to grab the standard hunter’s first aid kid he knew Bobby would have there, manhandled Cas out into the hallway and into the bedroom at the end, kicking the door shut behind them and dumping him unceremoniously on the edge of the bed. He wobbled a little, but didn’t just fall backwards onto it, so Dean left him there while he grabbed the spindly chair across the room and dragged it next to where Cas was still sitting with that towel on his head like a little wet nun.
He tossed the first aid kit down on the bed next to him and opened it before turning his attention to Cas, yanking the towel off of the top of his head. There were plenty of bruises and scrapes and cuts and burns all over him, but very few of them would require anything more than a few dabs with antiseptic. A couple would need bandages, as they had started bleeding again, but there was at least one spot that would definitely need stitches. Those would come first. Turning and rummaging around in the kit, he pulled out what he needed, set his jaw, and went to work.
Cas occasionally twitched and winced, but for the most part, stayed still and silent as Dean operated. He didn’t really look at him, either, just stared at the faded rug on the floor, his eyes distant and dull. Dean was rather grateful for all of the above; just because stitching up war wounds was old hat didn’t mean he couldn’t screw up, and Cas talking or staring at him…
It didn’t take long. After tying the catgut off on the spot on his ribs, he cut it and doused some gauze in disinfectant—had to all but give Cas another bath in the stuff, he was so cut up. But those would heal quickly, the bruises would fade, and he’d be fine—physically, anyway.
Dean pursed his lips, getting back up and turning to the kit, putting away the supplies much more deliberately than he normally would and not looking Cas.
Dean’s hands fumbled a little with the gauze he was rolling back up, and his spine stiffened a little. Cas’s voice was barely more than a whisper, rough and broken and small, but it might as well have been a gunshot in the silence that had been over the room. Dean stared down at the first aid kit in front of him, swallowing a few times and taking a few breaths. Finally, he just made a noncommittal grunt in the back of his throat and forcefully packed the rest of the kit away.
Simply to avoid having to turn around again, he lugged the chair back to its place under the ancient desk, even going so far as to push the chair in underneath it. He was contemplating taking the first aid kit back to the bathroom, perhaps scooping Cas’s clothes up off of where he’d left them on the floor while he was there, maybe even scrubbing away what would undoubtedly be an impressive and filthy ring around Bobby’s bathtub, when Cas spoke again.
Maybe it was the way he said it. Maybe it was because when Cas said his name, it came with so much emotional baggage, not the least of which was that disturbing veneration, but it was enough to finally make Dean turn around and face him, his arms tight around his chest. And Dean looked at him, sitting there all damp and shivering and diminished, wrapped in nothing but a ratty old towel, his eyes glistening again, and it was enough to unlock his throat.
“What, Cas?” Dean drummed his fingers against his elbow, looking at the wall for a moment before turning back to him. “What?”
Cas’s mouth opened, but no sound came out; Dean was appalled to see his lower lip was trembling. Oh, Jesus, he’s gonna start crying again. Dean could not handle that, not now. He looked away again, his jaw tight.
“I’m sorry,” Cas whispered.
Dean really didn’t want to hear Cas say he was sorry anymore—him saying how sorry he was what had led to that in the first place. “Sorry? You’re sorry,” Dean repeated. “Remember that time I said you needed a bigger word than ‘sorry’? Well, we’re at that point again, Cas—probably worse.” Dean risked a glance at him again, and goddammit, there were those awful, silent tears again. Dean couldn’t help it—he started pacing, the wood beneath his boots creaking with each step. “I don’t give a shit about you being sorry, Cas—I just want an explanation. How about a why? Do you—”
Dean stopped facing the wall, dragging his hand through his hair, and when he spoke again his words were deliberate and low as he struggled to keep his voice down. “Why did you do it, Cas?”
There was silence for a moment, no sound but Dean’s shaky breathing. Finally that same small, broken voice spoke up again. “I…I didn’t know it would…I just wanted…I thought…” Silence again. Then: “I was prideful.”
Dean stared incredulously at the wall for a moment more before whirling on him. “Prideful?!” he demanded, and Cas turned his watery stare to the floor, almost seeming to shrink in on himself. “What—what the hell does pride have anything to do with what you did?!”
Cas’s eyes were closed, tears still leaking out of the corners. “I thought I…I assumed I knew what I was doing, that what I was doing was right, because—” whatever he was trying to say seemed to stick in his throat, but he finally forced it out, “—because God brought me back. And…any path to keeping the Apocalypse from beginning again was surely the right one. I didn’t…think. I didn’t realize—I didn’t know…” He finally opened his eyes and looked back up at Dean, and his voice was barely audible. “I don’t understand why…why God would let me have free will when I…when I so clearly don’t deserve it.”
Dean stared. “Cas,” he said deliberately, “I’m not talking about your little psycho trip.” Cas blinked slowly at him, and Dean stepped forward, his arms dropping to his sides. “I know why you did that—you did that because you fucked up. You did that because you wouldn’t listen to anyone because you turned into a big angelic dick again and thought that because you are an angel, you could do no wrong. You did all that because you thought free will meant any choice you make’ll be the right one. And you did everything after that because you sucked down millions of souls that were way past their expiration date and it rotted your brain, because you didn’t think about just what might happen if you did it, no, all you thought about was doing it. You did it because you don’t seem to grasp that actions have some goddamn consequences!” He hadn’t really meant to be practically shouting in Cas’s face by the end of his tirade, but trying not to hurt Cas’s feelings was way, way down at the bottom of his list of Things to Do. Drawing back a little, he forced his fists to unclench a tad, staring down at Cas; he pretty much looked like he wanted to die. Well, screw that—if he died, Dean wouldn’t have a chance to throttle him.
“So yeah—I got that part easy. I know all about that part—I knew why you did all that before you even did it. I get it, and I don’t care about it—that’s over. I’m talkin’ about after, or did you somehow forget that you—” Jesus, he could barely even make himself say it, “—you fucking kissed me, Cas!”
Despite the fact that he still looked utterly broken and lost, Cas managed that old, familiar expression of blank confusion. With a painful jolt, Dean realized out of nowhere that it had been over a year since he’d seen Cas give him that look, and there was a sudden, unexpected sting behind his eyes at the sight of it now. Dean swallowed once before starting up again. “One second, we’re talking, the next you’re all over me. That’s what I want explained,” he ground out.
Cas was just staring at him uncomprehendingly, his brow furrowed, like he always had whenever Dean said something that flew right over his head (which was pretty much everything he said). Dean was about to demand if he needed the question reduced to even simpler terms when he finally responded. “…I love you, Dean,” he said quietly, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world and a completely acceptable response and something he could just say.
“You—” Dean couldn’t repeat it. “When did you just up and decide this?”
That unblinking, bewildered expression was still there. “I didn’t,” he said.
Dean breathed deep through his nose. “Okay—when did this happen? You just wake up from a bad trip and decide dudes are awesome and figure since I’m closest you’ll start with me?” he demanded.
Cas’s expression made it pretty clear he didn’t understand a word of what he’d just said. Dean decided it was time to be as basic as possible for the naked idiot in front of him. He chose his words slowly and deliberately. “Cas, how long have you—” Dean swallowed hard. Winchester, just man up and say it. “How long have you been—in…love with me?”
Holy shit, to just come out and say that—he had to stop looking at Cas, who still had that befuddled wet look on his face. “I don’t—I don’t understand,” he started.
“You didn’t just wake up from your god complex swooning over me!” Dean suddenly burst, not caring that he was raising his voice again and that those two bastards downstairs were probably eavesdropping. “When did this happen?!”
“Dean, I—” Cas was just boggling up at him, head-tilt and everything. “Since I’ve known you, everything I’ve ever done has…has been for you. You—you know that. My first act of disobedience, when I Fell, fighting against my brothers, both times I died, even—” He squeezed his eyes shut, and Dean pursed his lips and stared at the floor when more tears leaked out. “—even…starting the civil war and…all of what I did.” He opened his eyes again and looked up at Dean, all openness and honesty and adoration and confusion and guilt and Dean could barely stare back at him. “I did it because I loved you.”
Dean’s stomach twisted. Oh, now he was staring, his hands clenched into fists and his posture rigid. “You mean to tell me you’ve been like this the whole goddamn time?!” Dean snarled. Cas just blinked at him. “Were you ever planning on telling me?!”
“I—I thought I did.”
“When the fuck did you ever say that you—you’ve never told me this!” Dean bellowed.
Cas seemed to be struggling for words. “I always came when you called, I rebelled when you asked me to, I always helped when you needed it, I always do—” the words caught in his throat, and then there was that deep shame in his face again, “—did what you told me to do, and I…I told you that I did it for you, I’ve said—”
“So, what?” Dean interrupted furiously. “All that shit, those were your little love notes to me? You weren’t doin’ it because it was the right thing to do, but because you thought, what, that it would make me like you?”
Cas flinched, as if Dean had struck him. He just sat there, staring at his hands in his lap. “I…I don’t understand, Dean. You…you said we—”
“Don’t you dare say what I think you’re gonna say,” Dean growled.
“Sam loves you,” Cas murmured. “Bobby loves you.” He finally looked back up, meeting Dean’s eyes with his own. “Why can’t I? Why—”
“Because they’re my family, goddammit!” Dean bellowed. “Because Sam doesn’t—Sam doesn’t wanna make out with me!”
Cas just blinked at him with those stupid sheep’s eyes. “I don’t want to make anything with you,” he replied blankly.
Dean made a frustrated growling sound in his throat and threw up his hands, storming to the other side of the room, grabbing the back of his neck; he had a headache. After staring at the wall for a few moments, he whirled back around to face Cas.
“So that’s it? You jump me, tell me all about how you—love me, have this whole fucking time, and I’m just supposed to be fine with this?” he snapped, glaring at him. “What, you get into chick flicks when you were out playing God, think that because you say you love me, I’ll just fall all over myself and love you back?”
At his words Cas just sort of crumpled, looking about as broken and wretched as he did four hours ago in the bottom of that smoky crater. “No,” he said quietly, staring at Dean’s boots. “I don’t expect you to care about me anymore. I’m…after what I did, I deserve nothing from you or anyone else, least of all love. I did…I did so much of everything saying it was for you and because I loved you, and I thought you didn’t…” His eyes closed again. “I’ve earned nothing but your hatred and contempt twice over. My Father gave me free will and you gave me your trust and I…I betrayed you all.” He looked up, his eyes wet, and his Adam’s apple bobbed.
“What is this?” Dean demanded before he could start talking again. “You goin’ back on that again? Tryin’ to, uh, I don’t know, guilt trip me now or something? Dammit, I already said that was over, Cas! Yeah, I’m pissed—we all are! But now you’re changing the fucking subject!” he roared down at him. “Stop tryin’ to make me feel bad by bringing up how oh, you’re a monster and just want to curl up and die now!”
That guilt was once again tinged with confusion as Cas just minutely shook his head. “I’m not trying to—” he started.
“Then what are you doing?!”
Cas blinked owlishly up at him again, his blue eyes red-rimmed and glistening. “I’m just…I’m saying I’m sorry for—”
Looking back on it, Dean still wasn’t sure when he started moving, but one minute he was just fuming down at Cas and the next his fist was swinging through the air and he was screaming, “Stop fucking apologizing!” and then there was the wet and satisfying thud Dean’s fist made when it smashed into Cas’s mouth.
Dean had only ever hit Cas once before in his life—and he’d nearly broken his hand doing it. It had been like punching a three-foot-thick steel wall, and Cas hadn’t even flinched, just stared mournfully back at him like a feathery basset hound. But Cas had been an angel then—and now he was just a man, and he went down like a ton of bricks.
All Dean could do for a moment was stare at the way he just…fell backwards, taking the punch like a human. He hadn’t tried to dodge or protect himself, and so he’d caught the full brunt of it. Dean felt flecks of hot blood on his knuckles, and yet when Cas finally managed to look up from where he’d barely managed to catch himself on the bed, Dean was somehow still surprised to see the blood dripping from his split lip, dribbling down his chin and onto the threadbare towel covering his lap.
But it was so much worse that he saw no hurt or resentment in his eyes, just that same horrible sorrow and regret he’d had since Cas first opened his eyes at Ground Zero.
Gritting his teeth, Dean clenched his fists tighter to get his temper under control, counting to three for what felt like the millionth time today. “Cas,” he ground out, pleased that his voice was measured and quiet, “this isn’t about you…going dark side. You did it, okay? And it’s all on you. You knew it was a bad choice and you did it anyway—free will is a bitch like that.” He stepped closer, leaning over Cas as he stared feebly up at him. “But we forgave you for it, because that’s what family does. Family, Cas! You—you think I didn’t mean it those times I told you that?! You didn’t—” He swallowed. “You didn’t think I meant what I said back there?! You—”
The words got stuck in his throat, and for a moment, all Dean could do was stand there, quivering as he was stuck in that frozen state where he debated on which option would be better—screaming again, throwing more punches, or perhaps a lovely combination of the two.
But that goddamn confusion was back again, that look Dean hadn’t realized he’d missed until finally seeing it again after he’d been stuck with that dark, horribly wrong serenity that Cas had worn for over a year when he’d been filled to the brim with those souls, and it was mixed with something like disbelief and faint hope. Dean was considering just walking away because if the scrawny runt didn’t get it after all of this, he knew Cas’d never get it, no matter how hard he tried to beat it into him, when he haltingly said, “If…if we’re family, and you…forgive me and…you still love me…I don’t understand why…why you’re so angry with me because I love you too.”
And still Cas just stared at him, confused and pathetic and guilty and miserable, and Dean stared back, just as confused…until he was slammed in the face with the realization that that hadn’t been what Cas had meant at all, hadn’t been what he’d done at all, that he was just…that he had only…that Dean had been the one who’d—
He needed to sit down. He made it to the end of the bed and just let his knees go, sitting heavily down on the sagging mattress, which wheezed beneath his weight. He laced his fingers tight around the back of his neck, his head bowed and his elbows on his knees, before dragging his hands up over his head and through his hair, to bring the heels of his hands to dig into his eyes.
Fuck fuck fuck.
Scrubbing his hand over his face, wishing he could just…he didn’t know, but he wished he could do something, goddammit.
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