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Shitty-ass burger and cold fries. Dean didn’t know that you could fuck up a burger—add enough cheese and grease and ketchup and you could salvage anything, he thought—and yet here he was, ten packets of ketchup squeezed to an inch of their lives littering the table before him. The disgusting taste of regret and money badly spent lingered on his tongue.

“Next time,” Dean said, salting the hell out of his fries as if they were possessed by a legion of demons, “I pick. Trust my judgement.”

“I was hungry,” Sam said, a forkful of only slightly wilted leaves halfway to his mouth. “Besides, the salad’s okay. You should have vegetables sometime. Can you even poop?”

“I can poop just fine,” Dean said, bristling. It was only half a lie. He managed, and some days were worse than others, but wasn’t that the fucking case for everything? “Besides, look,” he said, peeling back his bun and showing Sam the pathetic excuse for a tomato slice, the leaf of lettuce that looked like some vegetarian Dracula had gotten to it, and the two faded pickles on top, “burgers have rabbit food too. Now shut your cakehole.”

Sam frowned so hard that he looked like a cartoon character—no, scratch that, a caricature of a cartoon character. Two dots for eyes and a giant rotated C for a mouth. Goddamn. Frown any harder and he’d be the Joker in reverse.

As Dean stared at Sam and contemplated how that Fabio hair would look dyed bright green, Sam’s phone rang. The frown slipped off his face, and Dean stopped wondering what stores in town would carry pimp-purple suits. Sam pressed a button on his phone and held it to his ear.

“Yeah,” he said, his other hand still messing with his fork and pushing the remains of his salad around. God, were those beets mixed in with the spinach and lettuce? Who the hell ate beets?

“Yeah,” Sam said again, only his tone had chilled, and he wore his trademark look of confusion and concern. “Yeah, got it,” he said, his hand stalling, his fork balanced against two fingers. “We’ll be there soon. Thanks for the heads up.”

Sam pressed another button on his phone and pocketed it.

“Case?” Dean said, and Sam nodded.

“Yeah. Chuck said—”

“Oh God, not again,” Dean said, dropping his burger. Ketchup splattered on his shirt, and he cursed under his breath. They’d just gone to the laundromat yesterday, goddammit; he reached over his own cup of soda and grabbed Sam’s water. He poured a few drops onto a napkin and wiped away at his shirt. “Come on, Sam, you remember last time. Don’t tell me you want to see Becky again, ‘cause you know she’ll be there, and she’ll be ready.”

Sam grimaced. He set his fork down and sighed.

“I mean, yeah, I’m not all that excited about it either, but—they’re just in the next town over, and it doesn’t sound like much more than a ghost disturbance. We could get it all sorted out in a couple or few hours. Chuck sounded pretty panicked.”

“Dude’s gotta do some goddamn research on the hotels he picks, man. We can’t just save his ass every time he decides to host some nerd party for a bunch of losers.”

Dean,” Sam said, his voice low. Oh God, one of Sam’s lectures was coming on like a bad migraine. Dean frowned and braced himself. “They’re people too, you know. They’re just big fans of Chuck’s work, all right, and they’re just having some fun, meeting people who are into the same thing they are—”

“—you mean running around pretending they’re us. Sam, does that not creep you out maybe a little—”

“—they don’t know we’re real, Dean; they think they’re pretending to be fictional characters, and if that makes them happy, then who are we to judge? You think our lives aren’t questionable? We’re sitting in a no-name diner eating crap for dinner, and our idea of a fun time is putting a whoopee cushion under an angel’s butt.”

Okay. Sam had a point.

“Yeah, well, at least it was funny,” Dean said, setting down his napkin. He could still see a couple faded spots of red on his shirt, but, well, good enough. Sam rolled his eyes and picked up his fork. He chased around the last few leaves of salad and cleaned off his plate.

“At least they’re not the ones drooling over copies of Soap Opera Weekly with Dr. Sexy on the cover,” Sam said after a moment, and Dean choked on his sip of soda.

“I—what—I didn’t—”

“Never said you did,” Sam said, looking up. God, Dean was gonna punch that smug grin off of Sam’s face if it was the last thing he did.

“Bitch.”

“Jerk.”

The roads were clear at this time of night, and Sam and Dean made it over to the hotel in just under twenty minutes.

“If you ever make me listen to that goddamn song about the bicycle one more time—” Sam said, slamming the door of the Impala behind him, and Dean scoffed.

“The hell are you talking about, Sammy? Queen is one of the most fucking genius bands there is, of all time, and don’t pretend like you don’t want to have sex with Freddie Mercury’s voice—”

“—whatever, just listen to that on your own time—”

“—at least I don’t listen to Celine Dion—”

The doors to the hotel burst open, and Chuck stood there wide-eyed, like Bambi caught full-on in Batman’s bat signal. He looked more frazzled than usual, and he practically tumbled down the steps in his rush to get over to Sam and Dean.

“Thank God you’re here,” Chuck said, hands awkwardly held out in front of him like he was some sort of T-rex on speed, and Jesus, Dean had to bite back the urge to laugh. “We’ve already salted down the lobby, but I just, I can’t keep control over them anymore; all these fans think it’s some kind of game and they all think they know how to handle ghosts and—I’m going to get sued; someone’s gonna die and I’m gonna have my ass handed back to me and I don’t have enough money to even pay for a lawyer—”

“Chuck,” Sam said, placing his hands on Chuck’s shoulders, and Dean wanted to hurl. Sam was going to spew out his rainbows and sparkles comfort bullshit and, oh God, now Chuck looked like Bambi and T-rex fucked and had a human baby, and no, he couldn’t handle this—“It’s going to be all right. We’ll deal with this.”

“I know, I just...” Chuck broke away from Sam and shoved his fist into his mouth, biting his knuckles as his breathing sped up. Dean swallowed back a laugh and nodded.

“All right,” he said, turning to Sam, and he swore that a constipated bear was looking back at him, what with that look of concern on Sam’s face. Dammit, Dean didn’t need the image of Sam shitting in the woods in his mind right now. He turned back to the door and cocked his shotgun. “Let’s go.”

All and all, it was a pretty cut-and-dry case. A couple of questions here and there, and hysterical responses revealed that some chick on a honeymoon with her beau had found out that her new hubby was a lying, cheating sack of shit. Stabbed him fifteen times in the heart with a letter opener and then jumped off the roof when she’d realized what she’d done. Room checked out; no traces of the couple left—Dean hoped to high hell that that was the case; the housekeepers had damn well better have come around at least once to change the sheets and vacuum the floor. A quick call to Bobby confirmed that both the chick and her man had been cremated years before.

“Now what?” Dean said, blasting rock salt at the woman staggering toward them, her neck at an unnatural angle, the edges of her silhouette flickering in and out of view. She disappeared in a puff of smoke, and Dean stepped back, shotgun still raised, eyes darting around the hallway.

“Then you keep looking,” someone said from behind him, and the voice wasn’t Sam’s—well, sure, he’d always felt that Sammy was a whiny little bitch, but this was actually a girl’s voice. He groaned.

“Look sugarpie,” he said, flashing his most charming smile as he spun around, “why don’t you just go and hang out with all your little friends in the lobby; we’ll handle this.”

“Don’t ‘sugarpie’ me,” she said. Dean came to a stop and scanned over her. Damn. Busty Asian beauty. He made a note to find her after all this was all over, maybe talk about his life story—especially the bits about his sexploits; Chuck probably didn’t include those in the books—over a round of drinks.

“All right Harajuku Lover, no need to get so huffy,” Dean said. The girl’s mouth dropped.

“‘Harajuku Lover’—are you fucking kidding me?” she said, balling her hands into fists. She drew up close to Dean, and goddamn, chick was short but carried herself like she was six feet tall. Dean’s heart pounded against his chest, and he took a step back.

“Look, it was just a joke,” he said, but her glare only darkened. Fuck. Her eyes weren’t that penetrating blue of Castiel’s eyes, but she could probably still give Castiel a run for his money.

“We don’t have time for your shitty jokes,” she hissed. She glared at him for a second longer, then stepped back. “Idiot.”

Dean’s collar suddenly felt hot and far too tight. Who the fuck did she think she was, strutting around like she knew about hunting? What she knew, she’d probably read from those goddamn Supernatural books, and those, thank-you-very-much, were about his life, about his experiences, about goddamn everything he’d faced and everything he’d learned.

“Yeah, well, you’re an idiot,” Dean said, cocking his gun again for good measure. The girl rolled her eyes.

“Very in character,” she said. She walked away from Dean and, yeah, sure, she was annoying as hell, but she was still a civilian. He was here to protect people, no matter how much of a smart-ass they were.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he called out after her, and she stopped and turned around.

“Lost and found. No one ever checks there,” she said. She paused, then added, “I have a name, by the way. Liz. And I’m Chinese, not Japanese.”

With that, she spun on her heel and disappeared around the corner.

Dean rounded another corner and ran into Sam.

“Watch where you’re going,” he snarled, staggering, and Sam rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, same for you,” he said. “Thought we were supposed to stick together.”

“Shit happens,” Dean said as he ran a hand through his hair. “I checked everywhere. Nothing in the attic; nothing in the walls; this place could be a fucking hospital with how fucking sterile it is. I’m shit out of ideas.”

“Yeah, same,” Sam said. “Basement’s clear, and I even checked behind all the paintings on every level. Nothing.”

Dean let out a frustrated growl. Goddammit, they were almost out of rock salt rounds, and this case looked more and more dismal every second. There couldn’t possibly be any other place—

Dean groaned, and Sam’s eyes flicked over to look at his face.

“What?”

“The lost and found,” Dean murmured, clapping a hand over his face. “Goddammit.”

“The—what?”

“That chick I met earlier,” Dean said, sliding his hand down his face and letting it fall to his side. “Liz. She said she was going to check the lost and found, and she said that no one ever looked there. Goddammit, if she’s right, I’m just going to fucking get smashed and forget about this whole thing. Where the fuck is the lost and found, anyway?”

Sam frowned, and he looked up. Dean recognized that face as the I’m-Sam-Winchester-and-I-read-every-sign-ever-like-I’ve-got-some-boner-for-signs face, and for once, he was glad that Sam had a hard-on for information. Definitely didn’t appreciate it when they were in museums or in a rush, but now, he sent a whisper of thanks up to whoever was running this joint that he had a nerd for a brother.

“Front desk,” he said a second later.

Dean cursed under his breath when he saw that familiar sheet of black hair before the front desk. Liz had a thousand items scattered around her, and she picked through them, holding each one up before tossing it away or setting it to the side with a few other objects.

“Told you no one checks here,” she remarked as Sam and Dean came to her side.

“Yeah, shut it Chun-Li,” Dean said, and holy fuck, the punch to his jaw almost sent him flying. He staggered back, stars clouding his vision, and looked up to see Liz glaring daggers at him.

“I told you, I have a name. At least you got the Chinese part right that time,” she said before turning back to the pile of objects, her hand still clenched into a fist. Sam rolled his eyes and pushed past Dean, who shook his head in a feeble attempt to clear his vision.

“Sorry about my idiot brother,” he said. “Found anything?”

“Not yet,” Liz said. “They’ve got like thirty years of leftover crap here. It could be anything.”

Dean stumbled over to the counter and sorted through the items with Liz and Sam. He kept his distance from Liz—her shoulders were still raised, tense, and Dean’s jaw smarted where she’d punched him. Goddammit, if he had a bruise, he was going to be pissed

“Got it,” Sam said, holding up a tiny locket, its copper chain tangling with a million other chains. “KVZ. Matches the woman’s initials. And inside—”

He clicked the locket open, and two curls of hair lay inside.

“Thank God,” Dean said. He grabbed the ashtray from the table behind them and set it on the counter; Sam lay the locket in the center of the ashtray. Dean wiped a few grains of salt from the end of the gun and sprinkled them over the hair, then whipped out his Zippo and set the whole thing alight. “There. Done.”

The three of them stood still, ears alert for any screams, any disturbances, but after a few moments, when everything remained silent, Liz clapped.

“Yes!” she said, jumping into the air. “Oh man, that was good. I have no idea how they do the special effects, but when my friend Cecilia told me about that whole ghost LARP that they had last year, I just had to come to this one and see if they had another LARP, and I am so satisfied right now.”

Sam and Dean looked at each other, and identical you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me looks crossed over their faces.

“Fuck this,” Dean muttered. “I’m getting a drink.”

This hotel, Dean was pleased to see, had some of the good stuff. And after tonight? Yeah, he needed it.

On his fifth sip (slash fifth mouthgasm), he noticed Liz sitting on the other end of the bar, still by herself. He was by himself, sure, but that was just for right now; Sam was still around somewhere. But Liz was alone alone, and okay, that was a little sad.

“I thought Asian people got all red when they drink,” Dean said as he slid into the barstool next to her. Liz pinched the skin between her eyebrows, and Dean felt a smug sense of satisfaction as a sigh escaped through her teeth in a low hiss.

“I don’t,” she said finally. “Genetics. Skipped me, thank God.”

“Can you even hold your liquor?”

“I would fucking drink you under the table if I didn’t have to drive tonight,” Liz said, fingers tracing the rim of a shot of something amber. A wedge of lime and a small pile of salt sat on a saucer beside her hand. Tequila, then.

“You don’t have someone else to drive you back?”

“No,” Liz said. She frowned and looked away. “Well, I was supposed to, but. Boyfriend and I had a fight.”

Boyfriend. Well, that shot down Dean’s plans. Horndog, sure, but he wasn’t one to mess around with other people’s relationships. All the same, that didn’t change the fact that she was alone—made it sadder, really.

“I’m Luke,” Dean said, holding out his hand. Liz looked at his hand and then up at him.

“Skywalker?”

“What can I say; parents were fans,” Dean said, shrugging. Liz continued to stare at him, her eyes narrowing; Dean pulled his hand back and set it on the counter. Liz looked at her shot, then tipped her head back and took it. She didn’t bother reaching for the lime, and all right, Dean had to hand it to her; he couldn’t just knock back a shot of tequila without chasing it with something. She sighed as she set the glass back down on the counter.

“We—my boyfriend and I—were supposed to come here together, you know, nerd out for a day with no one around to judge us for liking a mediocre book series with so-so writing and truly cheesy plots sometimes.”

Dean raised an eyebrow.

“Sounds like you don’t like the books,” he said, sipping at his beer. She smiled ruefully.

“Nah, I love them,” she said. She twirled her empty shotglass on the counter and looked down, letting her hair sweep over her shoulder and cover her cheek.

“So if the writing and the stories suck, then why do you bother coming to the middle of nowhere and hanging out with these lo—these... people?” Dean said, and Liz laughed.

“Because I love the characters,” she said, turning to face Dean. “Yeah, sure, the writing sucks sometimes, and sometimes the plots are just fucking convoluted and I have no idea what the hell’s going on, and there’s some truly, truly questionable treatment of women and minorities—I mean, Busty Asian Beauties? Really? Sure, I’m flattered that I’m Dean’s type, but it doesn’t shake the fact that I still feel like I’m being fetishized and thought of like some blow-up doll whenever I read about him looking at that magazine.”

Dean took a hasty gulp of beer as his eyes flicked up from Liz’s chest and back into her face. Liz rolled her eyes and continued.

“But the thing is—the characters, there’s just something about them that draws you in.” She smiled, this time more gently, sunshine breaking out from behind storm clouds. “I love them for all of who they are. For how kickass they are, and also for how vulnerable and human they are. For all their faults, even though they can be so goddamn frustrating sometimes. I mean, seriously, Sam and Dean really have to grow out of their martyr complex.”

Dean opened his mouth to retort that, no, they did not have a martyr complex, thank-you-very-much; they weren’t dying for the world’s sins and he sure as hell didn’t want to go all Passion of the Christ on everyone. Except the words died in his throat: all right, maybe he wasn’t dying for the world’s sins, but he’d definitely died for Sam’s sins and for his father’s sins.

“And Dean and Castiel,” she continued, shaking him from his thoughts as a grin spread over her face. “The books were all right before Castiel showed up, but once he walked into that barn, man, I was sold. Hooked. And it’s not just the whole badass angels thing—that’s cool too—but it’s also what Castiel does for Dean. Who Castiel is for Dean. The story between them, the way they draw each other to each other’s extremes. The way they love each other.”

Whoa. Hold up. Dean set his glass of beer back down on the counter, maybe a little harder than he would’ve liked.

“Dean and Cas do not have a thing,” he said, and Liz sighed and rolled her eyes. She shifted forward on her barstool.

“Look, I don’t really give a fuck what you ship, if it’s like Wincest—”

Oh God. Wincest? Was that what they called it? Okay, he had to admit that he was irrationally codependent on Sam, but—

“—or if you ship something else or nothing at all, but come on. Castiel fucking pulled Dean out of Hell, killed angels for him, did everything for him as he even said so himself. If Castiel were a girl, Dean and Castiel probably would’ve fucked by now. Like five times. A day. You can’t deny that there’s something going on between them, and okay, you might not think it’s sexual or romantic or whatever, but you can at least agree that it’s a really deep friendship.”

“But—” Dean said, then stopped, fixating on what Liz said about fucking. He did not need to imagine what Castiel looked like naked, or what it would be like if Castiel decided to switch vessels and become, what, a super sexy nun or something, but—said like that, all those smoldering glares started to mean something else, and all those little looks suddenly started to make sense, and oh God. Dean did not want to deal with all these Bert and Ernie feelings right now.

“But Dean’s not gay,” he finished, voice cracking. Liz flagged down the bartender and ordered a beer.

“Yeah, and that’s the beautiful thing,” she said as the bartender opened the tap and filled a glass. “He’s not. He’s clearly not. He’s demonstrated emotional and physical ties with women. But like—the siren being a man when it was a woman for other men like Dean?”

Dean frowned.

“Look, that was because Dean never had any real friends, okay?” he said, his voice coming out too edgy, too emotional. God, he was breaking his no chick flick moments rule, bad, but the words tumbled out of him like the fucking Flood. “He just wanted someone to hang out with. Who, I don’t know, liked the same shit he did. Like how you all come here to hang out with other nerds.”

Liz shrugged. The bartender slid the beer over to her, and she raised it and took a sip.

“Yeah, that’s valid. But the moment that really confirmed Dean’s bisexuality to me was the whole Dr. Sexy bit. Was there really any other moment when Dean was as flustered as when he met Dr. Sexy? He was like a schoolgirl, while Sam, who’s most likely straight—in canon, at least—was just standing next to him like he’s some idiot, and Sam clearly didn’t have any kind of reaction to Dr. Sexy.”

Bisexuality. The word punched Dean in the gut, and suddenly the room felt too small, the air too hot and stifled. Everything narrowed into a tunnel, and suddenly he was Indiana Jones, and that realization he’d been trying to hide sped after him like that fucking boulder, and this was him tripping, falling flat on his face; this was that boulder running over him and crushing him into the ground.

God, no, this was the Flood. Except no Noah appeared to haul him and some arm candy onto that ark, and there weren’t any doves in the air. Hell, there wasn’t a fucking ark at all, and he was drowning in all those memories that he thought he’d managed to repress:

That time he was eleven and the dude with Maybelline eyebrows made eyes at his dad, and the disgusted look on his dad’s face as they walked out of the apartment complex—and that tug at Dean’s heart, like Eyebrows was something familiar, like Eyebrows was a world drawing in its moon, but his dad’s words—he’s a fruit, Dean—severed that orbit pretty quick, sent him spiraling away.

That time when he was eighteen and he almost had a friend, a fucking siren-level perfect friend named Chris, only Chris told him he was gay and he’d bolted out of there so quick that he’d never seen Chris’s reaction, and even just thinking about him still made him sick to his stomach, still filled him with regret that he’d never gotten to apologize.

That time he flirted with that Irish exchange student Patrick, and then that flirting became fucking, and it hadn’t been a relationship, not really, mostly because Dean didn’t let it become one.

And now, with Castiel—

Dean choked down the rest of his beer. Liz frowned at him, an alcohol-induced pink flush beginning to creep across her cheeks.

“Look, I put up with your comments about me being Asian, but I am really not in the mood to put up with biphobia right now.”

God, biphobia, was that what it was? Was that what kept stopping him from just—just accepting all of what he felt for Castiel? Because yeah okay, Mr. Holy Tax Accountant was his friend, was practically family, but that wasn’t all there was to it. There was something more, something that pushed at those lines, broke those lines.

“I’m not—I’m not—” Dean choked out, and oh God, now there were tears in her eyes, and fuck, he hated seeing women cry.

“Just fucking admit it,” she said, her voice trembling, her grip on her beer shaky. “You don’t want to accept the idea that maybe, just maybe, there’s a popular series with a main character who’s male and bisexual. I mean, is it so awful of a concept? Is bisexuality that terrible? I have to put up with this shit all the time, you know; I’ve got a boyfriend and I pass as straight, and the shit I hear when people think they’re talking to a crowd full of straight people and God, I just want to scream sometimes, tell them that I’m not invisible, that I’m bisexual and that that’s okay, that that’s real and valid and—”

She took a long, shuddering breath and gulped down half of her beer.

“You know why I even bothered entertaining you?” she said, the tears spilling over her cheeks. “Even after you called me a Harajuku Lover? See normally, I would have just walked away from you right there, but you know what? I liked you, because you reminded me of Dean. And it’s not just the outfit, either; there’s just something about you that screams Dean. I don’t know if you’re just good at acting or if your personality is just like his or what, but it was nice in a way, you know? Like the story was real. Except maybe you’re too good of a Dean, because, you know what, you’re a dick.”

She slammed down her glass and slid off the barstool to stand. That regret he’d faced with Chris unfurled in his chest, and no, this was happening all over again. He felt as if he were imploding, as if he couldn’t breathe, and Chris’s face popped into his mind again, all freckles and teenage excitement, and he wondered what Chris looked like now. Whether he was like Eyebrows and screamed pride parade, or whether he was like all those other basketball guys, so male it hurt, straight as a level—only maybe not all of them were. Maybe they hid it, like he hid it. Chris had his own life now, probably, but maybe Dean’s disgust broke something in him, and maybe he hid it, had hidden it for years; maybe he drowned himself in women and pretended there was nothing there for men too.

“No, Liz, wait,” Dean said, reaching out, and she paused.

“What?” she said, voice still shaking.

“I’m—” he said, then paused. No, he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t just fucking admit this part of him in the middle of a shitty hotel bar, in the middle of a stupid Supernatural convention; he couldn’t do this, but part of him wanted to, screamed at him to. And God, he wanted to shoot rock salt at that part, wanted to draw up a Devil’s trap and keep that part hidden away for as long as he could, wanted to burn it until it was nothing but a memory. His lungs felt too small, too tight, and the words came out choked, squeezed. “I’m—”

And he fought to say more, but Liz’s eyes widened, and she sat back down.

“Oh my God,” she whispered, leaning forward to look at his face.

He was rocking slightly with the force of that struggle, that urge to vomit, and he said nothing in response.

“Oh my God,” Liz said again, sitting up and clapping her hands to her mouth. She lowered her hands and breathed, “Are you—are you also—oh God, I’m so sorry; I didn’t realize—I mean, no, don’t force yourself; if you’re not ready, you’re not ready.”

Dean swallowed. No, he definitely wasn’t ready. Not now, not here. Maybe not ever, except now he at least knew—knew what all that raging in him was—or, no, what it possibly could be, because no. Not here, not now.

“Hey, I—” Liz said, then placed a hand on his back, and Dean leaned into that touch. Familiar. Female. He could handle this. “I’m sorry for calling you a dick.”

The atmosphere in the room shifted, like tectonic plates scraping against each other, and Dean gulped again.

“I gotta go,” he said softly, and Liz sighed.

“I’m—I’m really sorry,” she said, taking her hand away from Dean’s back, and Dean squeezed his eyes shut. Absent of that touch, his mind began to swirl again with thoughts of Castiel. He felt worse than that time when he was twelve and came down with the flu, only they were on the road, on that fucking abysmal stretch of road between Las Vegas and Carson City, and there wasn’t anything around except shrubs and dust and he’d had to lie stretched out on the backseat of the Impala while Sammy rode shotgun. And every bump of the road made his headache worse, made that urge to vomit stronger, and yeah, he was twelve, but at that moment he’d had a taste of what Hell might’ve been like.

Dean got to his feet, but Liz grabbed his wrist.

“Hey,” she said, voice soft. She released him to rummage around in her purse, and she pulled out a pen and a small, spiral-bound notebook. “Here’s my number. If you ever need to talk—just call. Or text. Whatever.”

She tore out the sheet and handed it over to Dean. He glanced down at the numbers, eyes unseeing, before nodding and slipping the paper into his pocket.

“Thanks,” he murmured, and she smiled gently.

“Take care of yourself, all right?” she said, patting his hand. “You got someone to drive you back?”

“Yeah,” Dean said. His whole body felt as if it were going numb, and it wasn’t from his buzz. “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”

He staggered away from the bar and pushed through the crowd to find Sam, who, thankfully, had not been cornered by Becky, but instead had found his own group of people to talk to, and judging by the grin on his face, he was enjoying himself.

Well, too bad.

“Let’s go,” Dean said, and Sam looked up, a slight frown to his face, but that frown faded away when he saw the look on Dean’s face.

“Okay,” he said. The girl to his left pouted.

“Hey, do you have a Facebook or something?” she said, her eyes following him as he stood.

“Nah, I don’t really use those websites,” Sam said. Dean tugged at his sleeve, and Sam flashed an apologetic grin at the group. “Sorry guys. It was nice meeting you though.”

They made their way outside. Dean flipped his collar up against the cold. Away from that bar, under the stars, he could at least breathe, but his stomach still churned, his chest still hurt, and goddammit, he was still thinking about Castiel.

Dean tossed the keys over to Sam.

“You drive; I’ve had too much,” he said, opening the door and sliding into the passenger seat. Sam raised an eyebrow and climbed into the driver’s seat. He inserted the key into the ignition and turned to look at Dean.

“You all right, man?” he said. Dean pulled his collar up higher and leaned his head against the doorframe.

“I’m fine,” he said, closing his eyes and pretending to sleep. Sam turned the key and the engine growled to life. A second later, Freddie Mercury’s crooning filled the car.

I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride my biiike

“Okay,” Sam said as the car lurched into reverse, “this song is pretty awesome.”

“I told you so,” Dean said, latching onto the affection in Sam’s voice, the understanding, even when Dean hadn’t said a thing. “Bitch.”

“Jerk.”

Maybe someday he’d deal with that realization, that knowledge of who he was.

But not today.