Anyone who’s ever met Dean knows that he is not one for introspections.
The whole thing with sitting around in the dark and brooding about your life, about the maybes and what ifs, analyzing and dissecting the choices you’ve made and the ones you probably shouldn’t have… that’s for angsty emo teenagers who think that vampires sparkle or fall in love with dauntless blonde heroines, who believe in soul bonds and eternal love that can move mountains. Which is all a load of bullshit.
Dean, being a son of his father and one stubborn son of a bitch in general on top of that, prefers the good old time-tested Winchester coping mechanism that consists of consuming large quantities of alcohol, engaging in casual sex and occassional outbursts of violence, and most importantly - copious amounts of denial. If there’s a problem, he deals with it the same way he deals with ghosts: a six-foot-deep hole in the ground, a bag of salt, a can of gas and a lit match, then the Impala roaring loud, wheels kicking up dust as Dean leaves the town behind.
Only it doesn’t work this time, not since this particular ghost in the form of an angry red mark on his forearm follows Dean everywhere he goes, always throbbing, always whispering, always making itself known.
Sam is worried, and Cas is too, Dean knows that. They’re afraid the Mark is turning him into someone else.
The darkness that frightens them, the thrill and sheer pleasure Dean takes in the hunt, in the slash of a blade across a jugular, the crunch of a fist into nose cartilage, the snap of a heavy boot into a kneecap, that’s always been inside him, simmering right under the surface, plain to see for anyone who'd care to look. But they always chose not to, and even when it got so prominent that they couldn’t turn a blind eye to it anymore, they’d just chalk it up to something else, be it Dean’s grief over his father’s death, his post-Hell trauma or his difficulties of adjusting to a normal life after his stint in Purgatory.
To be fair, Dean's never tried to correct them on their assumptions, has never really seen a reason for it, although maybe he should do it now, just to get rid of those worried glances and endless variations of “Are you okay?” that annoy the crap out of him. Because the changes he’s going through are nothing to be concerned about. He’s a better hunter than he’s ever been – and not one for false modesty either, Dean admits that’s really saying something - he’s stronger, faster, lasts longer (yeah, in that way too), his reflexes are lightning quick, his aim always true.
The perfect soldier (daddy’s blunt little instrument).
But Dean’s more than that, more than just a mindless, obedient soldier following orders and doing his duty. He’s a warrior, he lives for the fight, needs it, actively seeks it out. It’s not just a job – it’s a way of life, an integral part of who he is, it’s what he does best, what he wants to do. Any doubts he might’ve had are long gone, the adrenaline rush of Purgatory reinvigorating his passion for the hunt, strengthening his conviction. After all, the feeling of right that comes with chopping a vamp’s head off or putting a silver bullet between a werewolf’s eyes speaks for itself.
So it turns out that Gordon was right in the end. Dean was born to do this.
And now that he’s fully accepted it – and accepted the Mark – Dean is more dedicated to his job than ever, focused and determined not to let anything or anyone get in the way of what needs to be done, of killing things that need killing.
See? No reason to be afraid.
Mind perfectly clear, Dean turns off the light, closes his eyes and goes to sleep.
He dreams of blood and torn flesh and screams.