Dean paces the length of the motel room. It's small and dirty; the air is heavy with old cigarette smoke and the carpet feels gritty and stiff under his boots. The vacancy sign is buzzing through the gap in the curtains, cutting a dull, red stripe across the beds. Dean would rather be outside, but Sam ─ his brother, Sam is his brother ─ said he shouldn't leave until they get this figured out. He isn't sure what needs figuring out, or why Sam needed two knives and a gun.
They have a lot of weapons ─ shotguns, pistols, stakes, daggers, knives. Dean walks over to the kitchen counter and pokes around inside the bag Sam left behind. There's an old, rusty crowbar, and an nearly-empty bottle of butane, and an industrial-sized canister of salt. Dean runs his fingers over one of the guns ─ a Colt forty-five with a nickel-plated barrel. He picks it up and tucks it into the back of his jeans. It feels like it belongs there, but he ─ he doesn't know why. After a moment, he shakes his head and puts it back.
He glances at the door. A note is taped below the check-out times, reminding him to stay inside. It's signed "Sam." Sam ─ Sam is his brother. Dean tries to remember it, but it comes to him in a jumble. He's wrapping a bandage around Sam's hand. He's grabbing at Sam's arm, trying to pull him out of a room with blood on the floor. He's setting off fireworks in an empty field. He's kissing a woman with dark hair and red eyes. She's beautiful, but her tongue tastes like a burnt match.
"Winchester," he says carefully. "My name is Dean Winchester."
He peeks through the gap in the curtains. A sleek, black muscle car is parked out front ─ a Chevy from the late sixties or early seventies. Something about it itches his memory, but he can't place it. He just knows he's seen it before. He's seen it a lot. He's ─ maybe he's being followed. Maybe that's what Sam is "figuring out."
"My brother. Sam is my brother."
He walks back over to Sam's bag ─ if he is being followed, he should probably protect himself. After picking through the different knives, he settles on one with weird writing etched on its notched blade. He grabs the gun again. He slides out the clip and counts the bullets like he's done it a million times before. Maybe he has.
Another note is sitting on the counter.
"Mary. My mother's name is Mary."
Mary has blonde hair. She has blonde hair, and Dean is a little boy. He remembers her cutting the crusts off his sandwiches. He remembers hiding his plastic army men in the pockets of her apron. But he also remembers her standing in this room. She ─ she left with Sam. She told Dean to be careful. She took one of the guns.
"No." Dean shakes his head. "She ─ fuck."
Mary died. He remembers her burning on the ceiling. And that's crazy ─ nobody fucking dies like that ─ but he remembers it. He remembers holding a baby outside a burning house. He ─ Sam. The baby was Sam. His brother, Sam.
Dean mutters, "Fuck," again and rubs his hand over his face. His chest feels tight. A dull headache is starting to hum behind his eyes.
Sighing, he sits on the bed closest to the door. He always takes the bed closest to the door. It's safer for Sam, that way. If monsters break in, he ─ monsters. That ─ that's not. No.
"If monsters are real, then they could get us. They could get me."
"Dad's not gonna let them get you."
"But what if they get him?"
"They aren't gonna get him. Dad's, like, the best."
Dean ─ he can't picture his father. All that comes to him is the smell of leather and Pall Mall menthols. He remembers a gruff voice telling him to stand up straight. He remembers dog-tags swinging from a rearview mirror and the low rumble of an engine. He ─ the car. The black car outside had belonged to his father. Then it belonged to him. He remembers a man with dark hair putting the keys in his hand.
The note is crumpled in Dean's fist. He flattens it out on the nightstand and reads the last line a few times. Castiel ─ he remembers Castiel. He remembers Castiel wearing a trenchcoat, and he remembers Castiel gripping his shoulder, and he remembers Castiel crouched beside a river. He ─ fuck. "Best friend" isn't wrong, but it isn't right, either. There's ─ something. Something else. Castiel helped Dean with something once; Dean just can't remember what.
"What's the matter? You don't think you deserved to be saved?"
Cas ─ they were standing in a barn. Dean doesn't know why Cas asked him that. He just remembers being terrified. Terrified and grateful.
"Cas," Dean mutters. He looks up at the water-stained ceiling and makes himself breathe. He thinks Cas might've been here earlier ─ with Sam and Mary, Dean's brother and mother ─ but he can't be sure. He doesn't really remember it. He does remember a dark house and a slowly-burning fire.
"You got to look at me, man. You got to level with me and tell me what's going on. Look me in the eye and tell me you're not working with Crowley."
Dean doesn't know a Crowley. The name nags at him a little, like meat stuck between his teeth, but he can't place it. His gut churns. He'd been angry at Cas then, but he doesn't know why.
"I'd rather have you, cursed or not."
"Castiel. My best friend is Castiel."
"And when you finally turn -- and you will turn -- Sam, and everyone you know, everyone you love -- they could be long dead. Everyone except me. I'm the one who'll have to watch you murder the world."
He has blood on his hands. A hot, writhing pain is gnawing at the inside of his arm. Then it's gone, and he's ─ he. He isn't. His name. He needs to remember his name.
"I'm Dean Winchester." He remembers saying that to a short guy in a bathrobe. "My brother is Sam Winchester." Dean carried Sam out of a burning house. "My mother is Mary Winchester." She's dead, but she isn't. Dead. Isn't. "My best friend is Castiel."
Dean remembers a sudden, blinding-white flash of light. His hands are shaking. Fuck. He ─ fuck.
"My name is Dean Winchester. Sam is my brother. Mary Winchester is my mom, and Cast ─ Cas is my best friend."