1. "What are you going to do, let somebody else die to save her? (Faith)
He’s running through the darkened field outside LeGrange’s house, watching so intently for the cops on his trail that at first he doesn’t notice the difference.
Only when Dean skids to a halt, no longer able to hear their running footsteps close behind him, does he finally realize that something’s very wrong.
The mist that before was merely twisting through the air in the distance has descended in full force, twisting around his shoulders as he scans his surroundings, just like dad taught him.
There are no crickets chirping. He can’t hear the wind rusting through the long grass; even the dog has stopped barking. It’s too quiet. Only the flickering flames of a small fire at his feet break the eerie silence.
A streetlight at the end of the field switches itself off, startling him and he spins round, watching as a second light cuts out, then another, then another, plunging the field into shadow.
Then he knows.
He should have seen this coming. Sue-Anne punishes the wicked, and what else is he?
He turns round slowly, knowing even before he does so what he’s going to see in the darkness.
The Reaper is already just a few feet away, watching him with a calm, blank expression that makes Dean’s heart sink. There’ll be no running from this. You can’t cheat death, and it was dumb for either he or Sam to think that they could, even for a few days.
He knows he should run; knows that he owes it to Sam to fight with everything he can, to give his brother every chance to find the altar and stop her before it’s too late. But he doesn’t. He just stands there. Because Dean can’t ignore the fact that an innocent man already gave his life in return for his. Dean should already be dead, and maybe if he gives his life for Layla’s in return, then at least his death will be worth something; will go some way towards redressing the balance.
So he straightens his shoulders and just stands there, waiting for the Reaper to come closer, fighting every part of himself that’s still screaming at him to run; to fight.
The Reaper reaches out, just as Roy had done before, and the gentle caress as it touches his face is almost a surprise, in the split second before the pain kicks in and drives Dean to his knees in agony.
Roy should have picked Layla instead of him, and that’s the one thing that Dean has the power to put right. He couldn’t let somebody else die to save Layla, but he never said anything about giving up his own life in her place. It's a lie of omission, perhaps, but it's a lie all the same.
2. “Manicured lawns and ‘how was your day, honey?’ I’d blow my brains out.” (Bugs)
He says it with an off-beat grin that’s guaranteed to make Sam laugh. It’s just one more offhand comment to add to the thousand that have come before it, all designed to cement Sam’s opinion of him. To Sam he is a hunter first and foremost; formed in their father’s image. There was a time when he had to work at this pretense, needing to be half-father, half-brother to bridge the gap and keep his family together, but the mask has become second nature to him now.
He wonders what Sam would say if he knew the truth - if he knew about the blank college applications lying in trashcans where no-one else would find them. If he knew how much Dean longed for a home; for a family that wasn’t scattered to the four winds. But that is not the path he was born to walk.
People like Dean are the hunters who live in the shadows, protecting others who are blissfully ignorant of the dangers that lie all around them. The hunt is his vocation - to ensure that no-one else will ever suffer the same fate as Mary Winchester. No other family will be destroyed the way his was. Not if he can help it.
So he accepts his nomadic lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t envy those who live within picket fences - the families who come together for dinner every Sunday to share the mundane things in life.
He doesn’t regret the job he does, but he longs to be more than a soldier.
He wonders what Sam would say if he told him of his dreams to be a firefighter and a father.
He wonders what Sam would say if he told him about Cassie.
3. “As long as I’m around, nothing bad is gonna happen to you.” (Nightmares)
Dean’s lying through his teeth, but then he’s been doing that on a daily basis for years and he’s damn good at it.
So good, in fact, that even his brother can’t catch him out; especially when he’s saying things that he knows Sam badly needs to hear. It’s a shame the words mean nothing. Sam has already lost his mother, his girlfriend and the safe life he fought so hard to attain.
Dean saves people every day, but his presence doesn’t seem to make much difference where his own family are concerned.
4. “All I’m saying is, you vanish like that again, I’m not looking for you.” (The Benders)
Dean’s exhausted, hurting and irritated, and Sam’s an easy target for his frustrations. The adrenaline rush from the fight is fading fast, leaving Dean acutely aware of the burning pain in his shoulder.
It hurts like hell, but it’s his sheer relief at finding Sam alive and unhurt that’s threatening to send him to his knees. He masks that fact with a quip; falling back into the safe, comfortable role of the older brother, but judging by the way Sam keeps looking at him, he’s not fooling anyone.
Dean knows that he won’t forget the sheer terror of realizing that his brother was missing anytime soon, and it’ll be a while before he can rest easy when Sam’s out of his sight. There’s only one thing he knows for sure – he’d follow Sam to the ends of the earth.
5. “Do we need to talk about this?”
“I’m not really in the caring and sharing kind of mood.” (Asylum)
He's cut off Sam's attempt to clear the air with a bare-faced lie - in fact, he'd love to talk about this. He desperately wants to hear the platitudes, to hear Sam say that he didn't mean it; that it was all Ellicott's influence.
But he can't bear to hear Sam lie to him, so he gets his lie in first, because he knows Sam's words didn't come from a crazed psychologist who tortured his patients. Those were the words of a man driven past his inhibitions, saying things he's always felt but been too polite to say.
Instead, Dean slides into the car with a barely concealed grimace as the movement jars the burning flesh across his chest. He knows the wound isn't serious, but it'll hurt like hell for a while.
Deep down Dean's always known how Sam really feels, but hearing the words out in the open just brings home to him exactly how broken his family has become.