He’s not a superhero. He doesn’t have a cape. He doesn’t wear spandex. He doesn’t have that heroic morality and the refusal to kill villains. He doesn’t even have powers! No, he’s just a human who can take a beating and who is more than just a little pissed off.
This all started on the day his mother died.
One Year Ago
Fuck, fuck, fuck, repeats in his head like a mantra as he bolts down the street in his cheap suit and with his cup of coffee in hand. He pushes through the crowded streets of downtown Chicago. I’m late!
He runs until finally he’s on Michigan Avenue and the station is within view. He would drive Baby to work but he only lives about fifteen minutes away. The streets of Chicago were always so damn packed that he decided to take up running. There’s also no added danger of someone scratching his precious Impala because they can’t park to save their life.
He bolts into the station and checks his watch. Fuck. He’s ten minutes late. He begins to lament how absolutely fucked he is when a voice calls out. “Winchester!” Fuck. He turns to his left to see the Chief of Police, John Winchester, his father, standing right there, ready to chew him out. John Winchester does not do favoritism, in fact, he’s harder on Dean than anyone else, which is one, completely unfair, and two, it’s not like he’s ever been a fuckup of a detective, at least not more than others.
“Office. Now,” Chief Winchester says and immediately - because his co-workers all have the maturity of twelve-year-olds - he hears ‘ooh’s and one ‘he’s in trouble’. Dean follows Chief Winchester to his office. He never calls him Dad or even imagines him as Dad when he’s at work.
Didn’t go so well the last time he slipped up.
He steps into Chief Winchester’s office and as soon as he closes the door behind him he is met with a glare. “You’re late,” Chief Winchester says and if looks could kill, God, Dean wouldn’t be breathing to hear the rest of this dressing down.
“Give me a break. I’m barely ever late,” Dean says, exasperation in full-swing.
“Detective Winchester!” Chief Winchester barks and he immediately shuts up. He knows better than to run his mouth when the Chief gets like this.
“It doesn’t matter that you’re ‘barely ever late’, boy!” The Chief starts his rant, disregarding the disbelieving noises coming from Dean’s mouth. “Just because you’re my son doesn’t mean you get special treatment, Dean,” Chief Winchester says.
“You think I expect ‘special treatment’?” Dean scoffs, frustration boiling up inside him.
“You damn well act like it,” Chief Winchester - his father, mind you - says with a tone just short of venomous. “You screwed up the raid last week and-” Dean cuts him off with an angry growl.
“So that’s what this is really about! That raid was not just on me, if I wasn’t paired up with the greenest beat cops they fucking had-” Dean wants to say more, he wants to say all the shit in his head that’s on the tip of his tongue but then, Charlie, their resident tech guru, busts through the door, iPad in hand.
Saved by the redhead.
“What is it, Bradbury?” Chief Winchester snaps at her. Dean resists the urge to protest his treatment of her. She’s sweet, really, like a little sister that he never asked for but somehow wiggled her way into his heart. Damn, he sounds like a character straight out one of those chick-flicks that he definitely does not watch.
“You know that gang you wanted me and Ash to keep an eye on? Well, we just got an anonymous tip about a deal - possible narcotics involved - going down in the warehouse district in three days. It’s all linked to Azazel’s Children,” Charlie says, brandishing the iPad at Chief Winchester.
Dean has always thought that ‘Azazel’s Children’ is a dumbass name for a gang. Why even mention kids? They sound like a goddamn cult. “Did you get an exact address?” Chief Winchester asks. “No,” Charlie says, holding out the ‘o’ with a sort of melodic tone “but I did work a little magic and got ahold of the spot where the deal is gonna go down,” Charlie says with a proud smile.
“Good work. Get me the information then get Lafitte and Harvelle in front of me,” Chief Winchester says. Both Dean and Charlie don’t move an inch. “Feel free to get to work.” That ends it and they both hurry out of the room.
“You just saved my ass,” Dean huffs out with a laugh.
“I know,” Charlie says with a wink. “Why do you think I came in at the perfect moment?” she asks, cocking an eyebrow. Dean stops mid-step.
“You little…” he starts to say before they both break into peals of laughter. “You’re evil, my Queen,” Dean says with a wink of his own.
“Damn straight, manservant!” Charlie is giggling uncontrollably and he can feel the mood he was in melting away. The whole manservant thing was a little embarrassing for a while, but after he got more into LARPing - which is a secret he’ll take to his grave, thank you very much - it got to be normal. Well, as normal as a bunch of grown men and women playing with foam swords in a park can be.
Charlie is the Queen of Moondoor, the fictional kingdom they live in, and Dean is the Queen’s manservant. He’s accepted his role with vigor. He wanted to be one of her knights but Charlie informed him that as a manservant he acts as her personal bodyguard, which, all right, being the bodyguard to the Queen? Not bad, all things considered.
“You did bail my ass out. He was back on me about the Thompson Raid,” he says, taking a quick look around to make sure no one is paying attention. They’re standing in the middle of what they call the bullpen; desks are placed everywhere in a semi-organized manner to seat every detective and every person unfortunate or stupid enough to be placed on desk duty.
He’s still a little worried that the Thompson Raid could have him assigned to desk duty, pushing pencils and answering phones for the rest of his career. Okay, it wouldn’t be that long, he would probably at most get fourteen months of staring at a screen, doing basically nothing but still, it would suck.
He loves his job. He loves catching criminals and seeing them get their dues. That’s why he went into doing this in the first place. Well, yes, it was partly because of his father’s involvement and dedication to the police station but mostly he wanted to put some bad guys behind bars.
“Dude, that raid went really bad,” Charlie says, looking up from her iPad.
“Thanks, Captain Obvious,” Dean says, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“You have some serious attitude, Winchester,” Charlie says, poking him in the side.
“Ow!” he says, jumping back and clutching his side.
"In any case, I have to go rally the troops," Charlie says with a quick salute and then she's off, weaving through the organized chaos of the surrounding crowd. Dean watches her go with a strange sort of apprehension and he's not exactly sure why. He shrugs the feeling off and heads off towards his desk.
His partner, Benny Lafitte, is sitting with his feet propped up on the desk, leaning back into his chair. "Hey, brother," Benny says, without looking up from the files he's currently studying.
"Hey," Dean responds, making his way over to his own desk and plopping down in the chair.
"Did the Chief yell at ya again?" Benny asks, finally looking up from the papers strewn across his lap. Dean sighs and Benny seems to take it as a response.
"Oh, hey, fair warning, Charlie's gonna come to get you any minute now so you can go see His Royal Highness," Dean says. He feels Benny should know so he can prepare himself for the onslaught of information.
"Thanks, brother," Benny says with a chuckle, immediately moving the papers from his lap and onto his desk. He watches with a detached sort of interest as Benny quickly straightens his tie and grabs a comb from one of the drawers in his desk.
Benny's kind of a strange guy but Dean thinks he makes good company. He turns his attention away from Benny and to the paperwork he has yet to fill out. It's a report he's supposed to write up. His account of the Thompson Raid.
He hasn't touched the paperwork yet because he doesn't want to talk about it. He doesn’t want to describe how that little girl died.
It's not a matter of remembering the details. He remembers every moment in perfect clarity. He wishes the memories would fade or at least dull, but there's not really a chance of that happening, not if the nightmares are all that fill his head every time he dares to fall asleep.
That night haunts him and he's certain that he'll never be quite the same again. The Thompson raid was ugly, horrific, and not something that Dean every wants to speak of again. In words or on paper.
Writing everything down makes it that much more real. That much more memorable. Putting it down on paper feels like exposing himself. It feels like he'd be divulging a very personal part of himself by talking about the events of Melissa Thompson’s death.
Suddenly, he feels very sick. He wishes more than anything that he could be home and that he could talk to his best friend. He wishes he could talk to Mom and explain everything, then she'd give him a hug and tell him everything's okay.
But he's a grown-up now. He can't go crying to his mommy every single time something bad happens at work. That's not how a man should act, according to his father, at least.
He's still lost in thought when a certain redhead comes bounding around the corner and grabs Benny by the wrist, pulling him away to explain this new raid, and for once, Dean's glad he's not going with.
He knows the Thompson Raid wasn't his fault but it stills gnaws at him. The guilt feels so heavy in his chest that he feels like he'll sink. He feels like he's slowly drowning in a deep pit of his own bottled up emotions, so, he does what Dean Winchester does best; he bottles them up further, then tosses the bottle in a box, never to be opened again.
He's doing nothing when his shift finally ends. He hasn't finished the paperwork, even though he needs to. He tried, he really did, but every single time he tried to write anything down, even his own name, he failed.
What kind of a useless, waste of freakin' space detective has he become? He can’t do shit to help the police force if he's so emotionally distraught that he can't sign his own goddamn name.
The thought of anyone figuring out how overwhelmed and desperate he is… That scares the shit out of him.
He is not a weak little kid anymore. He's an adult and he needs to grow a pair.
Even with all his fears and doubts, the day was fairly normal. Well, normal except for the fact that everyone was walking on eggshells around him - the incident at the start of the day notwithstanding - and barely anyone spoke to him because they must all be so afraid of hurting poor, fragile, sensitive Dean Winchester.
He’s not poor, he’s not fragile, and he is not goddamn sensitive .
He stands up, grabbing his coat and is preparing to leave when he remembers the pie pan. Shit. The pie pan. His mother had given him a pie to share with his co-workers - namely Benny, his mom really likes him - and the empty pan is sitting in the fridge.
He quickly walks to the little kitchen-type area. There's a little mini-fridge and a counter next to it with a bowl of fruit, a coffee machine, a rack of sweeteners and salt, and a nearly empty box of donuts sitting on it.
He opens the mini-fridge and grabs the pan. He quickly hurries out, not wanting to talk to anyone else but, of course, since he isn't that lucky, he's stopped by a beat cop. This kid just started in the department less than a week ago.
The kid is a genius and is qualified for way more than patrolling the streets for thirty bucks an hour. Dean thinks his name is Kevin. He's been a little preoccupied with the Thompson Raid and has barely said two words to the kid but apparently, he wants to speak to Dean.
"Detective Winchester, sir," the kid says.
"What do you need, Officer Tran?" Dean asks, doing a quick, cursory examination of the kid. His eyes seem wide and hopeful. His posture tells Dean that he's nervous. He does his best to look as non-intimidating as possible. No matter what Dean's feeling, it's not an excuse to scare the poor kid.
Dean might not be looking to make people one-hundred percent comfortable but he's also not looking to make anyone particularly uncomfortable around him either. "I wanted to, um, ask you if, uh, if it's..." Officer Tran trails off and Dean is starting to get a bit irritated. He wants to go home.
He does his best to not snap at the kid. It's not his fault that Dean is in a pissy mood. "If it's what?" Dean asks, trying his best to keep any venom out of his tone. He's not sure he succeeds but judging by the fact that Officer Tran didn't flinch and run away, he must've done a decent job.
"If it's true that, um, Chief Winchester is your dad?" Officer Tran squeaks. Dean laughs hollowly. He feels bitter and tired. He can't believe that's what this officer wanted to ask him.
"Yeah, he's my old man," Dean says, unable to keep the anger out of his voice. The anger isn’t there for this fresh out of the academy officer, no, it’s for his dad who sees fit to give him shit twenty-four-seven.
He's not exactly on the best terms with his father right now, but this barely old enough to drink beat cop does not need to know that. Officer Tran looks a little surprised. "I thought the other guys were pulling my leg," he says.
Whatever spark of humor Dean was feeling is now gone, replaced by a flare of irritation. "Tell 'em to stop gossiping like schoolgirls and do their damn jobs. Now, if there's nothing else, Officer Tran," Dean says, barely noticing the nervous head shake Officer Tran gives him before he makes his way to the door and steps out into the cold night air.
Okay, he might've been a bit harsh on the kid, but his personal life isn’t anyone’s business, even if his dad is the Chief of Police. He doesn't get any special treatment. He doesn't expect it or want it either. He got to this position on his merits alone and someone suggesting otherwise - like they no doubt are - makes his blood boil.
He walks out into the freezing cold air of the Chicago streets. As he walks, he feels a bright joy in his chest. He gets to see two of his favorite people in the world tonight.
Castiel Novak - Cas, as Dean calls him - is just getting back from a business trip. He works as a defense lawyer and recently his brother, Samandriel, had a friend get into a bit of a scrape so Cas went all the way to California to defend him.
He offered to pick Cas up from the airport but Cas’s flight got in during his shift so he wouldn't have been able to do that. Plus, Cas needed to go to the office before going home so he said that he could cab it.
Dean didn't like the idea of Cas having to catch a cab from the airport all the way to his office but there wasn't really another option. He searches in his coat pockets for his phone and pulls it out. There's a string of texts that he received from Cas.
>Cas: My plane will be touching down soon.
>Cas: I'm on my way to the office. I cannot believe they asked me to come in today.
>Cas: I'm at home now. When should I expect you back?
Dean's sure he must be sporting a goofy grin but he can't help it. Cas texts like he speaks; perfectly. He can even imagine Cas’s voice, all gruff and deep. He quickly types out a response.
>Me: gotta drop something off. b home soon. have u eaten?
Cas responds fairly quickly. Dean has never understood how someone who texts with such perfect English can type so fast without screwing up words or punctuation.
>Cas: No. Have you?
>Me: nope. takeout?
>Cas: Yes. I can pick up burgers from the Roadhouse if you want.
Dean grins. He's got the best damn roommate ever.
>Me: burgers sound great. see u soon.
>Cas: I'll see you soon, Dean.
Dean was so wrapped up in the conversation that he didn't notice the light rain that has begun to fall. He looks up and curses. He didn't bring an umbrella. Nowhere in the forecast did it say it was supposed to rain! Dean thinks.
He debates going back to the apartment to grab Baby but he's already only about fifteen minutes away from his childhood home. It would be a waste of time to walk all the way to his apartment since it's the other damn direction, so he sucks it up and keeps walking.
As he walks, the rain picks up until it's a full-blown downpour, like, raining cats and dogs kind of downpour. His parents live just outside of the city in the suburbs, so it's kind of a far walk but it's really nice when it's not freaking raining!
He sprints along the street until he sees their house. He runs to the porch and is grateful to finally be out of the rain. His old family house is a well-kept cookie cutter kind of house. There are flowers growing outside that Mom takes good care of, the porch is in good repair - most likely because of Dad - and even though the house is like many others on the block, it’s completely different in the sense that it feels like home.
The lights are on inside of the house so he goes to knock but he freezes, his hand hovering in the small space left between his knuckles and the door.
He freezes because the door is already slightly open. Dean is hit with a wave of anxiety. He gently pushes the door open. "Mom?" he says. Nothing seems to be amiss in the front hallway.
The front hallway opens up into the living room-slash-kitchen with the stairs on his left. He notices that a lamp next to the stairs has been knocked over and broken. There’s glass all over the floor and his breath catches in his chest.
He can hear his heartbeat in his ears as he climbs the stairs as quietly as possible. He thanks every higher power he can think of that his gun is still on him. He slowly draws his pistol out and clicks off the safety.
He holds it up as he reaches the top of the stairs. He arrives at the top of the stairs and begins to make his way down the hallway. There are doors on both the left and the right of him as he walks.
Only one door is open; the master bedroom.
He moves as quickly as possible, all but sprinting towards the door and when he looks inside the bedroom, time seems to slow down. His mother is lying on the floor, her body is jerking and twitching and there's some sort of froth coming from her mouth.
There's a man in the window. He looks back at Dean and before Dean can think to even fire his gun, the man leaps from the second story window. He spares no thought for the man and simply runs to his mother. He shakes her shoulders. "Mom!" he calls out but she's still seizing violently. “Mom, stay with me!”
He searches her neck for a pulse. He feels one. It’s weak and thready but it’s there. He pulls her upper-half to his chest and despite her flailing limbs, he holds on for dear life. “Mom,” he says. His voice breaks.
He feels like the world is crumbling around him as he chants “Mom,” like a prayer. He doesn’t want to let go. This can’t be happening. He thinks. No, no, no. “Stay with me, come on, please,” he begs.
With shaky fingers, he produces his phone and dials nine-one-one. He keeps a death hold on the woman in his lap as he explains everything to the operator.
Everything after that is hazy; the paramedics bursting into the house, prying Dean away from his mom while his vision blurs with tears, and putting her in in the ambulance with Dean in tow, sitting in the ambulance doing whatever he can to help as they try to deduce what's wrong with her.
He's now sitting in the hard plastic chairs of the hospital waiting room. He can feel his whole body shaking. His first instinct is to call his dad. Sammy is still in California studying at Stanford so, calling Sam is a no-go, at least not for now.
He opens his phone and hits his dad's number. It rings for a few seconds before an irritated voice speaks up. "What, Dean?" Dean isn't crying. Not now. He cried the entire time before the ambulance got there and a bit while they transported her, but he refused to let himself cry once they got to the hospital.
He doesn’t need any extra pity from anyone. Especially not the hospital staff.
"It's Mom, she's in the hospital, Dad, and I'm here with her. You have to get over here, now," Dean says in one rush of air. John Winchester says nothing more and simply hangs up.
Now that he's done what's required of him, he calls the only person - other than Sammy - that he wants to talk to right now. "Dean?" Cas's rough voice rumbles over the line. He feels the hot tears he was trying to hold back spill down his face.
"Cas," he says and his voice sounds broken. He hates it.
"Dean, what happened?" Cas asks. He sounds worried. Really damn worried.
"I'm at the hospital," he says, his voice is shaky and thick with emotion.
"What?!" Cas's voice sounds panicked now, none of his usual calm demeanor is left. "Why? What happened, Dean?" He covers his face with his free hand as he listens to Cas’s voice.
"My mom," he chokes out and Cas seems to get it.
"I want to come and support you, Dean, is that okay?" Cas asks as if Dean will say no.
"Yes," he manages and Cas breathes out a sigh of relief.
"I'll be there soon," Cas says.
"Cas, could you, uh," he says through the tears. "Just keep talking?" Dean asks. He needs a port in the storm and Cas has always been there for him and vice versa. Dean needs his best friend right now.
"Of course," Cas says and it's all Dean can do to keep from sobbing into the phone.