Dean just needs to hit something. All the time. And he promised Sam he'd get out of hunting, go to Lisa and live his fucking apple pie happily ever after. He'll do one of the three, and he'll be fucking pissed about it.
He hasn't talked to Eliot since that time in the place with the thing, but he really needs to fuck something all to h—up, and Eliot always knows where there's a fight.
And Eliot tells him, voice rough through the phone, that he could use some help watching his team's back, since there's a bigass target painted on 'em now, so Dean signs up.
There's nothing supernatural about it. No angels or demons or hellpits swallowing baby brothers. Just douchebags he can break all to pieces, and it feels so good. They just point him in the right direction and get out of his way, and he doesn't have to make decisions or ask questions. Just his fists, and knives, and every now and then a gun, because Eliot still hates them, but sometimes it's the only way out.
For a year, he's not happy, not even close. Not content. But he's living. Nobody can ask for more than that.
Eliot's been giving him worried looks since he first got brought on board, but none of the rest of them, Eliot's makeshift family who don't have a clue about that time in the place with the thing, know how to even begin to tell that Dean's more broken than Parker. (He wonders about her sometimes, but he just doesn't have it in him to ask anymore.) But Eliot won't start that conversation (Sammy wasn't there for that time in the place with the thing. Sammy isn't here now. Half a dozen goons go down hard and won't ever be getting up.) and Dean doesn't care about anything but the ache in his fists and the twist of a blade and how his gun jerks in his grip.
He's so very broken, and he won't kill himself, but he'll sure as fuck let himself die.
And finally, finally, after a year of looking for Death and his white ring of hellpits, Eliot slams Dean into a wall and demands, "What the fuck have you been doin'?"
Dean scoffs and shoves him away, saying, "You care now?"
Eliot grabs him again, pushes him back against the wall. "This is my team, you bastard. You can't keep half-assin' things! You'll get 'em killed."
Dean just sneers. "You want me gone, let me know, Spencer."
Eliot pulls back, looks at him. Says quietly, "I want you gone."
He doesn't tell anyone goodbye.
If possible, things get worse. This time, no one's there to watch his back. He's wanted a dozen places for things he actually did this time. Castiel shows up once to reprimand him for disgracing himself this way, spitting on his second chance. (More like his fiftieth chance, but what's the point in counting anymore?) Dean just keeps sharpening his knives.
And then he's on the losing end of a fight with a djinn of all the damn things, and he's barely trying, and maybe he'll finally be able to die and nothing will bring him back.
And then there's Sam. Dean lets himself fall back, spread out on a dirty floor, and he laughs and laughs.