The brothers hardly ever left the bunker other than going on a hunt or to go on a food run. Now that the angels fell, they mutually decided that normal hunting was held off until they've managed to get a good footing on the situations that they deemed worthy of their attention. Having Crowley locked up in the demon dungeon, Dean’s worries went elsewhere, went to the people he considered family at this point, and to keeping them alive. Sam wasn't in good enough shape to be on his own because of the Demon Trials and trying to make a human Crowley. Dean worried about him, he always has, he’s his baby brother.
But Sam is there, under the same roof, safe.
The small group, for the most part Dean, was also looking for their friend that was undoubtedly the most affected. Cas is among some cast-out angels from Heaven that would rather see him dead than to spare him a second thought, Dean couldn’t even begin to follow the train of thought to the idea of Cas being dead, so no matter what the cost was he vowed to himself that he had to find Cas.
Dean went to look to see if there was enough sustainable food in the kitchen to make something, cooking became sort of a coping mechanism ever since having a Kevin who needs to eat and a brother who needs the energy. After finding nothing he could make into a sufficient meal, he decided to take a trip to the grocery store to stock up.
“Hey Sammy, ’m goin' out for a food supply run, be back in 'bout an hour” Dean shouted as he started to walk down the hall to his brother's room.
“Okay, see you when you get back" Sam muttered, clearly exhausted.
"D'you need anything, while I'm there?"
"Uh yeah actually, could you pick up some herbal tea, my throat is really sore from the trials and well y'know coughing up blood.” Sam replied in a pained whisper.
“I would give you shit for that but you actually look like crap," he takes a deep breath to steady his inner turmoil, "so yeah I’ll pick some up for you.” Dean said closing the door.
After Dean talked to Kevin, and made a grocery list, because they do that now. He grabs his keys and his wallet, and starts his way to the impala, he knows he has everything, checked in with everyone; and yet he can't shake the feeling he's missing something.
The drive there was uneventful, mainly filled with his singing that he will deny of being good. Pulling into a parking spot of the small store they go to, small enough to not be overwhelming but big enough to have everything they all need. He sat there for a while, just contemplating everything that was going on, they've been in catastrophic messes before, but something about this one had shaken him to his core. He didn't know how things would end up for all of them, which is why his thoughts lead him down the path labelled "profound bond". Dean had no idea where Cas was or if he had his grace or his wings, the stories on the news seemed to show meteors falling, burning, crashing. Every other mundane human figured it was a scientific war between space and earth, but the Winchester's and who they associated with were anything but mundane, they knew, and they worried.
Which lead Dean to do what he's done for so long since he lost contact with Cas. He prayed, not to anything or anyone else but to the one who knew him more than he knew himself. Even if the both of them didn't know that, it was just how it was. Another thing Dean did was at the end of every day he would document every prayer he thought or said. He wrote and wrote, in a notebook similar to the one John left for the brothers. He told himself after every page filled and turned that when he found who he was looking for he would give it to him, as a token of effort, trying, hoping,… longing.
"Cas," even though Dean has done this many times, many times a day on occasion, he still has to swallow down the emotion held in the nickname, "I don't know if you can hear me,…" he takes in a steady breath, "I've prayed to you every day since the angels fell, it's been… what?... a little over a month now?" he starts to think over that time, "Cas, buddy, I need you here, I can't do this alone. Sam.. he thinks that I can but I can't. Hell, I don't want to… haven't for a while. I need you, angel. Please… I just need a sign that you're okay." Dean addressed Cas but for all he knew he was talking to himself.
But again, like every other time he waited, nothing happened. No sign, nothing. He sighed to himself pushing back those thoughts, and focusing on what he drove here to do. Absentmindedly he opens the car door, steps out, shuts the door, and walks into the store. Like every other supply run he's done since living at the bunker. He'd call it home, but it doesn't feel like home when you're not at ease.
Dean became methodical in mundane things, such as grocery shopping. Everything on his list was in an order from what he encountered first in the store to what was there before the cashier's line. He tried to be quick in the store feeling an uneasy, anxious feeling residing in his gut; the kind that makes your hands clammy and quiver in the slightest bit, where your breath seems heavy in your throat and all you can do to extinguish the feeling is to close your eyes, and take deeper breaths.
Dean still held it true that he never talked about his feelings, but he's began to be better at distinguishing them and managing instances like this. He would think, he would read, and he would write. He knew he wasn't doing well, insomnia seemed to set in, his thoughts often darker than usual, you could almost say he was on the border-line of resignation. Although he had a will to fight, for Sam, for Cas, for everyone they ever knew, for the people who needed them. He had them as a will to fight, never himself.
The clerk at the register was too happy for how he was feeling and that seemed to set him on edge a bit more, but since this was a place he was forced to go to more than just passing through, he kept it polite and civil. He collected what he purchased, headed for the exit and to the impala. Since they still kept the arsenal in the trunk he put everything in the back seat. He made his way around to the front after grabbing a soda he purchased in the line that took too long, he started his car and drove off towards the bunker.
Dean figured he could take a longer detour back, wanting to calm his nerves and process the new feelings he felt since waking up. He didn't want Sam to think something was wrong, because if he was asked, he wouldn't be able to say anything. Dean has seemed to figure out that it was never about feeling weak if he showed how he felt, it was that he was so used not doing so that he felt weak that he couldn't. He always brushed it off with a comedic jab to Sam or whoever was asking. He often felt inadequate, stupid, or emotionally immature because of his inability to express what his head and his heart often feuded about. He also thought he could use this time to write in his prayer journal with what he had said today, but then he realized he left it in the bunker somewhere, probably his room.
The "longer detour" was really just the normal route, it went through the main part of town rather than the back roads they preferred to use for anonymity. However as he passed through the small town's square, that anxious feeling only grew. His eyes slowly widened, looking around, expecting something to happen. You know that feeling you get, when something big or bad is about to happen, it's typically never a good sign.
But this time, this time was an exception.
He slowed down at the intersection, the light turned red and the crosswalk light lit up, and that's when he noticed a blur of a familiar color. He squinted his eyes to get a better look, he knew he hadn't been sleeping well but he didn't think that he was at the hallucinations stage.
Hearing his phone ring, pulled him out of his trance. Checking it he saw it was Kevin calling, deciding on pulling into the parking lot, he answered the call.
"Hey Kev, what's up, everything alright?" Dean asked trying not to sound so shaken by what he thought he saw.
"Dean," he immediately noticed that Kevin seemed out of breath, "I had a vision…" and when it seemed like the kid wouldn't continue Dean became a little frustrated.
"A vision? About the trials? Sam?" Dean was becoming more and more curious.
"Uh no actually, this one was kind of different, but uh it was of the angel, Castiel, the one you guys know…" Kevin explained, with detail this time.
"Cas? Tell me everything you saw in the vision." Saying Dean was anxious to hear about it was an understatement, to say the least, but he needed to know. Needed it in a way he couldn't describe.
"Yeah okay, um, it was different than a normal vision. I think Castiel might have performed a ritual to locate where we are and because of the warding on the bunker," Dean listened to Kevin taking a contemplative breath, "I think it lead to me seeing it? I'm not sure, but Dean… he's nearby, in this town at least."
Dean feels like he needs to do something fast because of what happened right before Kevin called, "You're sure he's nearby?"
"Yes Dean, I saw the square in it, I recognized from the time that Sam wanted us to go to the farmers market." Kevin huffed out, sounding a little like Sam.
"Uhm, yeah, okay, thanks Kev. I'll be home soon." Dean sighed as he hung up the phone, looking around hoping that his prayer earlier would come true now.
And then his phone rings again, this time an unknown caller.
I gotta take it, it could be Cas. Dean thinks to himself.
"Hello?" Dean announces, hopeful.
"Dean.." And there it is, that all too familiar voice, Dean would always be able to know it was Cas, just by his voice.
"Cas? Wha-Where are you?" Even though Dean had been hoping for this moment for so long, he still felt clueless for what he thought he should say or what he should do, so he waited for Cas to reply.
"It appears that I'm in the town the bunker is in, or nearby. It looks like the post office is to my left." Cas replies as Dean is already getting out of the driver's side.
“Hey Cas, stay where you are, I’m on my way to you.” Dean strode over to where he saw Cas at the payphone.
He placed his hand on the angel's shoulder.
Castiel turned around, looking lost and hurt.
“Dean, where were you when I needed you.”
“Cas, I was here, I was waiting for you. Always waiting for you,” Dean noticed his surroundings becoming blurry and a red hue taking over, he recognized this. “Cas,...”
“I saved you, why couldn’t you save me?” The front of the Angel’s white dress shirt was now being consumed by a radial blood stain, the contrast alarming Dean, he knew what was coming.
“Cas, no, you can’t. Please, I’m sorry,” Dean felt the oxygen evacuate his lungs, the heavy weight of his chest indicated the gas being replaced with a cement like solid feeling; unable to breathe. “Cas please, I am sorry for failing you, this shouldn’t’ve happened.”
Dean tried to catch his breath, tries to force himself to breathe. His surroundings spinning like a tornado, but at the same time nothing is happening.
He looks up.
And he sees the portal.
He sees it open wider as Cas steps through, remembering feeling relieved but now all he can feel is the sinking feeling in his stomach.
He sees the flicker of it open again in a blur, and he sees white light burst and explode from within the Angel he came to love.
He sees Cas fall back on to the ground.
He sees wings etched into the earth around the motionless body, wings that belonged far from where they lay to rest.
And he feels.
He feels his chest tighten and he feels like it’s beginning to solidify, preventing him from breathing all together.
He feels his knees hit the ground.
He feels the loss of losing the one person he never thought he would lose like this, and he felt it shatter him.
Everything goes black and air suddenly fills his lungs.
He sits up alarmed, hyperventilating, and in bed. It was a dream, he lost Cas. He lost the one person that meant just as much, but in all the other ways, as his brother. The weight of everything crashing down on him again, he felt so much, hurt so much he couldn’t move. Frozen in place has he had to relive the day that broke him, in his own subconscious. He tried to manage his breathing by holding his head between his knees, but the image of Castiel just… laying there cold and motionless violated his methodical reminder of how to breathe properly.
He was panicking, Cas couldn’t be gone, but he was. And Dean was angry. Angry at Lucifer, for killing him. Angry at Chuck, for creating this life they lived. Angry at his bloodline, for being righteous, or whatever that meant. Nothing seemed right anymore. He was angry with his brother, for holding him back when he wanted to go fight with Cas. He was just angry.
He couldn’t breathe, he was alive and he couldn’t breathe.
It wasn’t fair, he was alive and it wasn’t fair.
Dean was so focused on trying to regain control of his breathing when he missed the sound of Jack opening his door to walk in and check on him, he must have been panicking more intensely than he thought.
“Dean? Are you alright?” Jack asked, with concern laced in his voice. All Dean could do was look at him and shake his head signalling “ No, I’m not, can’t you see I can’t function. ”
Jack doesn't understand and it hurts, he wants to understand to help. Then he remembers the conversation he had previously with Sam, about the grieving process, how there were stages with specific needs. He also remembered that Sam said how Dean doesn't grieve the same way everyone else does, that he’ll internalize and repress things until it that alone begins to hurt him.
So Jack takes the words he was going to say and swallows his emotions back, knowing Dean needs him to do something, to feel something real. Jack carefully wraps his arms around the man who became like a father figure to him. But when Dean couldn't calm his breathing down to be useful instead of harmful. Jack decides to hug him tighter touching the back of his neck and puts him in a dreamless sleep, with the sole purpose that he gets the rest humans need.