He took one last look at his work then turned and walked on without a backwards glance. He got into the Impala and drove away from the bunker, not caring where. When the gas tank got low, he moved from highways to back roads until he found a place to stop.
He’d forced his mind into cruise control as he drove to ward against the lure of the centerline, but now, in the room, he allowed it to come flooding back in. Sam gone, Kevin dead. The tricks he’d always used before--convincing himself there’d been no other choice, compartmentalizing the casualties as unfortunate but necessary losses—knew a lost cause when they saw one and deserted him.
He rolled his shoulders, trying to loosen them. They were sore from the hours behind the wheel, but also from the digging. But dammit, he’d made sure Kevin had a proper burial. It was quite literally the least he could do. The shovel left blisters on his hands and the pain he felt with every touch seemed both fitting and wildly inadequate.
He’d had one swallow of whiskey, standing over Kevin’s grave, then he’d thrown the bottle as hard as he could, gaining small satisfaction at the sound of shattering glass in the distance. But here, in the motel, he wouldn’t allow himself the numbness of alcohol. He deserved to feel every last bit of this pain.
He trashed the fuck out of that room stopping only when the clerk came to the door, threatening to call the cops. (And he would call them when he found the sigils Dean had spray painted all over the walls.) The clerk hadn’t really looked like Kevin but he was young and skinny and that was enough for Dean to lose it.
And this was no single, perfect tear bullshit. These were hoarse, guttural sounds that left him gasping on the floor. Every wall he’d built in his mind was shattered and his brain put on one hell of a slideshow: a greatest hits montage of all the damage he’d done in his life, starting with his mother left to burn. He cried until he slept, then he woke and cried some more until the burden of his guilt and his losses left him paralyzed, catatonic with grief. It felt as if the very air in the room pressed in on him from all sides, pinning him to the bare mattress. His mind swirled with plans he was too hollow to carry out.
That’s how he’d been for hours, maybe days, when he heard a knock at the door. He ignored it. He’d paid for the room, he wasn’t causing any trouble. The knocking sounded again, and again, before the door was shouldered then finally kicked open. Dean turned his head, expecting cops. It wouldn’t be such a bad way to go, he thought, one quick move on his part and the choice would be taken right out of his hands.
It was Cas. Dean turned his head away.
Cas closed the door behind him, taking in the destruction and the angel-proofing.
“I expected I’d need to sober you up, but it appears that isn’t the case.”
He picked his way across the debris-strewn room until he was in Dean’s line of vision. Dean turned his head back the other way. He knew he was acting like a petulant child, but Cas wouldn’t understand how fucking done he was. With all of it. The long silence was finally broken by a scraping sound as Cas began to clean up the room. Emptiness replaced with rage, he jumped to his feet to see Cas trying to fit a drawer back into the dresser. Dean grabbed it from the angel’s hands and threw it down, then shoved Cas as hard as he could. Cas fell backwards, tripping on the overturned desk chair, hitting the wall before sliding to the floor. Dean kicked the chair out of the way and stood over him.
“Stop trying to fix things. You can’t fix this. Just get the hell out of here.” He pulled Cas up roughly by the arm and aimed him towards the door.
Cas shook himself free of Dean’s grip and moved away, hands up to show he meant no harm. How nice it must be to look at the world like a child, Dean thought in disgust, always waiting for a happy ending.
“Don’t try to make me feel better. Don’t try to tell me I did my best. And for fuck’s sake, don’t tell me I can make this right. I am absolutely fucking done with all of this.“
Cas stood, blue eyes silently watching.
“You know what the worst part is?” Dean’s voice was soft, but his tone was hard. “The last thing Kevin saw was Sam. He died thinking Sam killed him.” He turned his back to Cas, rubbing his face with his hand. “He was just a kid. I was supposed to be looking out for him.”
“So you feel responsible for Kevin’s death?”
Now the anger was back full force. Maybe Cas meant well, but he was in the wrong fucking place at the wrong fucking time and Dean was ready to knock some reality into his infuriating, naïve face. He turned back around, fists clenched.
“Did it ever occur to you, Dean Winchester, that as a prophet, Kevin should have had the protection of an archangel?”
Dean held his ground, waiting to see where this was going.
“There were no archangels there because I had them cast out of heaven. If you are looking to assign responsibility, well…” Cas held his hands out, palms up.
Dean’s voice dripped with bitterness. “Great, we can go halfsies on Kevin’s death if that makes you feel better. But it’s just the latest in a long line.” Cas took a step towards him and Dean held his hand up in warning. His adrenaline was pumping now, giving him the strength he’d been unable to muster earlier. He pulled his gun out of his jacket. “I’m not leaving this room.”
Cas sighed. “I have my grace back, Dean. Your gun doesn’t frighten me.”
“I’m not leaving this room,” Dean said again, and lifted the gun to his own head.
A flicker of concern appeared in the angel’s eyes and he took a small step backwards. There was a long moment of silence as they regarded each other.
“What would you have done differently?” asked Cas, finally, his head slightly tilted to the side.
Dean shook his head in disbelief, his temple brushing against the steel barrel as he did so. “I would do everything differently. Every last fucking thing.”
Cas nodded his head slowly. “That is good to hear. “
Dean couldn’t hide his exasperation. “How the hell is that good news?”
“Because it means you are learning from your mistakes.” Dean didn’t want to listen to this but Castiel had that laser focus that made the rest of the room fade from his vision. “It’s a particularly human trait to take one’s experiences and learn from them…using that knowledge to do better next time.”
Dean’s shoulders sagged, the gun growing heavy in his hand. “I can’t fix this, Cas.”
“Not Kevin, no.” His voice was steady but there was no mistaking his sorrow. “But there is still a chance for Sam.”
Dean let his arm fall to his side and Cas moved quickly to him, Dean putting up no resistance as he reached for the gun. The moment he grasped it, there was a bang and a flash of bright light and Dean staggered backwards. He was caught, uninjured, before he could fall, wrapped in arms and wings that held him tight until his shaking subsided.