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Wherein Dean Punishes Himself Over & Over Again

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It’s another dive bar, the third cheap scotch on the rocks, blood under his nails from the hunt — and Dean is both angry and glad when Jack’s shadow darkens his table. “Glad to see you got my message.”

“Yeah, well.” Jack slides in the other side of the booth and stretches his feet up on Dean’s bench, tapping Dean’s thigh with his toes. “I almost didn’t come. We can’t keep meeting like this, Dean. I can’t keep enabling you like this.”

Dean swallows the rest of his drink, only wincing slightly before thunking to glass a little too hard on the stained wooden tabletop. “I don’t have a problem.”

“Oh, you have a problem,” Jack says, quirking his eyebrow as he flags down the haggard waitress. Despite the chilly reception the last three times she’d brought Dean a drink, she smiles and blushes while Jack orders for them. Jack doesn’t speak again until their drinks arrive and she’s on the other side of the bar. “What now? You wanna watch him turn again? Or are we headed back to the lake again? Dean. Dean.”

“What!” Dean is disheartened to discover the drink Jack ordered him is just a coke. “Look, I can’t do anything — I get that, alright? But I didn’t — If I just…” Dean snarls under his breath and finds the flask from the inner pocket of his jacket. Oh yeah, he’d seen enough of that particular brand of Are you serious? before. “I didn’t do enough. The least I can do is remember.”

Jack’s fingers run idly over his wristband, and he’s frowning. “I get it. Believe me, I know more about losing the people I love than anyone — almost anyone. You can’t keep doing this. I’m not supposed to keep using this, you know.” And after a moment, lower and harder, “He wouldn’t want this.”

But Dean doesn’t want to hear it, shakes his head. “The Doctor mentioned once — this park.”

“I know of it.”

“This’ll be the last time.”

“You said that last time,” Jack says, but he drops a bill on the table and leads Dean out behind the bar by the arm. Dean will never get used to the sensation of zapping through time and space, but he opens his eyes in shock when the cold hits, snow seeping through his shoes and hitting his skin like a needles. Jack holds him back behind the line of trees. “Don’t do anything.” 

Standing perfectly still, Dean watches Castiel talking to his god — his deadbeat fucking dad who put them in this situation — and his chest feels caved in. While he was somewhere in the world watching Casa Erotica on some shitty motel television, Castiel was alone in some remote park begging for advice from a dad who never called.

“Am I doing the right thing?”

Jack’s hand is like a vice on Dean’s arm, and he wants so badly to wrench away, to shout and stop this whole thing before it starts. Change everything. He’s had it up to fucking here with guilt and fixed points in time. He wants Castiel to stop. He wants Castiel back.

“You have to tell me, you have to give me a sign.”

“Stop,” Dean breaths, feels Jack’s fingers tighten through the leather of his jacket. 

“Give me a sign.”

“Please stop,” Dean looks away, can’t stand the hurt and the confusion and the fear in Castiel’s voice because if he had only watched for the signs, if he had asked, if he had only been thinking… “Come find me. Just tell me. Trust me.”

They’re gone a second later. Dean clenches his eyes shut, trying to hold that last image of Castiel in his mind. The alley behind the bar stinks of urban decay, and Jack releases him. “I’m sorry, Dean I can’t tell you how sorry I am. We all miss him.”

Dean pounds a fist against the brick of the bar as he turns away from Jack, from the pity and pain he knows he’ll see in Jack’s eyes. Because more than anyone, Jack understands. “Yeah, I know.”