Dean sleeps with things under his pillow. He sleeps with a gun, his very first gun that his father gave him. He sleeps with the tube of lip balm he swiped from his mom’s dresser in 1973—buttery and waxy and smearing up the pillow case during hot summer nights when the air conditioners were broke in their cheap motels. He sleeps with a dog-eared, finger smudged, coffee stained copy of Deadeye Dick.
Sam catches him reading it one time. What’s this, Sam says. You read?
Of course Dean reads. Dean reads all the time. Dean reads the ads on their carton of milk. Reads the nutritional information on the menus at the local diner. Reads that there’s mayonnaise on his hamburger and asks them to hold it.
First read Deadeye Dick when he was a kid, when Dad had brought him on a hunt to go after some monster.
It was only after it was over that they had discovered the cracked up eggs, wet noses breaking their way through to stinked up oxygen, deep in the sewers.
At least Dad sent him to the car for that.
Sometimes, Dean still feels like puking so he crawls into his bed, tugs the covers up over his head, buries his hands underneath the pillow, rolls the book into a tube and remembers that time, when at the age of seven, he shot a pepsi can off a post and Bobby Singer said, wow with an aim like that, maybe I should call you Deadeye Dick—tousled his head with a calloused hand, never explaining what the fuck he meant.
Of course, Dean knows now. Glad that Bobby never mentioned it again.
Maybe Dad’s fucking long hunting trips convinced him that Dean was always better than Dick, than Deadeye Dick.
Sam says, “Hey, Dean, you going to sleep—“
“Fuck yes, I’m going to sleep—been a long hunt, Sam, boy’s gotta get his beauty sleep,” as he collapses on top of the scratchy motel coverlets, not even bothering to kick off his boots, gun biting its way into the small of his back.
Sometimes, when he wakes up a bit, he hears Sammy praying his prayers, the prayers that echo in the cavern of his throat, the cave of his chest and his lungs. Hello hello hello hello and nothing else, ever.
“Hey, Sammy,” he grunts, cracking his grime crusted eye open. “I got a prayer for you?”
“Oh yeah,” Sam says. “As I lay me down to sleep?”
“Bitch,” Dean says.
“Jerk,” Sam says back, right on cue, everything hunky dory and peachy keen between them.
Dean forces himself to sit upright, scrubs his face with the knuckles of his hand till his eyes bleed into blue nebulas. “Oh Lord Most High,” he says, eyes on his lap. “Creator of the Cosmos, Spinner of Galaxies, Soul of Electromagnetic Waves,” and he remembers the lightening crawling up his legs, burning his heart to ash in the cavity of his chest, “and Exhaler of Inconceivable Volumes of Vacuum, Spitter of Fire and Rock, Trifler with Millennia—“ because, seriously, no really, what kind of god decided to just destroy the whole goddamn world with a flood, with an apocalypse, with a goddamn pillar of salt salting the land, making it infertile— “what could we do for Thee that Thou couldst not do for Thyself one octillion times better?” – because, let’s be real Sammy, God, if he were real, could off this world with hell fire, with the flood of his tears, with the drought of his loss and his grief— “Nothing.” Didn’t you listen, Sammy, didn’t you listen to the classic rock? Dust in the wind, Sam, just dust in the goddamn wind. “What could we do or say that could possibly interest thee?” Throat hoarse yet, Sammy boy, from praying, from saying amen for the billionth time? “Oh, Mankind, rejoice in the apathy of our Creator, for it makes us free and truthful and dignified at last.” Are you there God, are you listening, it’s me—Dean Winchester? Sam Winchester? Who the fuck cares ‘cause God sure doesn’t. “No longer can a fool point to a ridiculous accident of good luck and say, ‘Somebody up there likes me.’ “ Hey Sam, Sam, Sam—do you remember when Mom used to say, Angels are watching over us? Of course you don’t. “And no longer can a tyrant say, ‘God wants this or that to happen, and anyone who doesn’t help this or that to happen is against God’ “ –because God is dead, an archangel said so, Sam, weren’t you there, weren't you listening, oh that’s right you weren’t because you were gone, Sam, you were gone. “O Lord Most High, what a glorious weapon is Thy Apathy, for we have unsheathed it, have thrust and slashed mightily with it”--the angels thought he was the Michael-Sword--
They’d find him. They’d find him right here. They’d find him collapsed on his bed. They’d find him too tired to even strip out of his dirty plaid shirts. They’d find him, never trying quite hard enough to live up to the expectations of all the fathers of the entire goddamn world.
The funny thing about swords is that their edges get blunt, isn’t that right, Sam?
But Sam’s got this puppy look on his face, his eyebrows wrinkled up, side-eyeing the fuck out of Dean and goddamn Dean hates that look on Sam. “What?” he says. “It’s a real prayer. Published in a book and everything.”
“Yeah?” Sam says.
Dean relishes that he has, apparently, read a book that Sam has not. Ha ha ha.
Blah blah blah.
Remembers what Cas said about being a transdimensional wavelength of celestial intent. Wonders what would happen if he were a wisp of undifferentiated nothingness.
Would it be the unstoppable force with the unmoveable wall?
But nope that couldn’t be right. They’d change the name of the game, hadn’t they? Averted the goddamn apocalypse?
Wasn’t that worth something?
Stomach jerks and he’s scrambling to sit right on the bed, feet on the floor, boots off, but only one sock on and one sock off, when he hears the words, “Hello, Dean.”
“Cas,” Dean says. “What the hell you doing here, Cas?”
“Didn’t you pray?” Cas says.
Dean threads his fingers through the tattered seam of his pillow case. “Did I?”