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Retrospection

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                He awoke, staring at the sky. It was a cloudless night and where ever he was had no light pollution, for he could see a billion stars of the Milky Way. He wondered how he came to be here.  As full consciousness returned to him, he began to feel jolts of pain course through his body. He groaned as he sat up and surveyed his surroundings. He was in an open field, with small trees scattered on the horizon. The grass around him had been completely flattened, and he imagined that from above, it must look like a crop circle. He briefly toyed with the notion that he had been abducted and left here. Upon looking at himself, he did realise he was naked, after all. It was just too absurd and he dismissed it just as quickly. He attempted to stand, but fell back with a loud grunt. His arms and legs were very sore and he had what looked like road rash on many parts of his body. He grabbed his head. He felt dizzy from trying to get up and the realisation set in that he had a massive headache. The hum of crickets seemed to get louder. Somewhere in the distance a bird called. Not far off, plants rustled and twigs snapped. A mother deer and her two young moved out into the field. She stared at him for a good while and then ushered her young to move on. He sat, and rubbed his temples for a bit.

                His body started to calm down from whatever had happened. After a few minutes he attempted to stand again, slowly this time, first into a crouch, before straightening up. In every direction, he could see something scattered among the flattened grasses. He tried to step toward the nearest objects and stumbled, falling to his knees, barely catching himself on what strength he had in his arms. He elected to crawl over to the items instead. There were scraps of fabric littering the ground. My clothes? Pieces of tan, white and navy fabric seemed to be strewn in every direction. At one point he found a small piece of blue. Unfortunately, none were large enough to be useful, none were large enough to cover him. Most seemed to have varying amounts of blood on them, causing him to once again glance at his wounds. He was not actively bleeding, and he wondered how long he had been laying in this field. He winced as he touched one of his cuts. The stinging sensation slowly died away. As if this action had brought back all sensibility, he remembered he was on all fours, naked, in the middle of a field. He stood rather suddenly, but found he was able to keep his own this time. There was nothing but nature in all directions. He started to think about where he was. He didn't know. In fact, he didn't seem to know much about his current predicament. He couldn't remember the last thing he did before waking up here. He couldn't remember yesterday. The harder he tried to remember anything, the worse it became. He did not know his own name. He began to wonder what he even looked like. Beginning to feel anxious, he brought his thoughts back to one thing he did know for certain; he was a man, body and soul, naked and bruised in a field somewhere.

                Light had started to peek over the horizon. He didn't know how far or for how long he'd been walking. His feet were sore without any shoes and his legs were aching. He was glad to have found a road so quickly, but it was small, dirt and seemed to lead nowhere.  He felt like he'd been walking for a millennia. What did a millennia feel like? Suddenly the trees cleared and revealed a dilapidated barn. It was wooden with flakes of grey paint peeling away. The boards were rotting and many had been broken.  As he approached, he could see there were symbols spray painted on one side. He looked in between the broken boards. Shafts of light shone down through the holes in the ceiling.  On the floor was a large, fading red star in a circle, with characters written around the edges. He stared at it, as if it were supposed to mean something to him. He drew a blank and sighed. The rest of the barn appeared to be normal, but looked like a bomb had gone off. He didn't think too much about this though, considering the state of the exterior. As he walked along the side of the barn, he dragged his fingers along the wood. He realised the mistake, as a large splinter made its way into his finger. Snapping his hand back as though he had been electrocuted, he let out a yell. He found pain to be very frustrating. He yanked the splinter out with his teeth as he marched his way around to the door of the barn.

                The door creaked noisily as he opened it and damn near fell off its hinges. After walking all night naked, he was hoping to at least find some fabric or cloth to wrap around his waist. He found a pile of empty old grain bags. They were all torn and frayed, but large enough to cover what he needed to cover. Modesty? He supposed this was his primary concern, because everything else was sums of pain. His damaged feet, sore legs, bruised arms; it all blurred together with the ache in his abdomen and the dry lump in the back of his throat. Every swallow was like shards of glass. He gave the barn a good look over, but left with just his burlap bag. Having nothing to hold it, he clenched the ends together in his left hand and continued walking. Not far from the barn, he came across a wooden fence. It was short and blissfully easy to climb over.  In the paddock, he came over the crest of a hill and he could make out horses in the distance. He was so excited, he almost ran. After a short walk, a modest house appeared. He knew what could happen if he approached, but what choice did he have? Someone appeared in the doorway as he got closer.

                "Hey! What are you doing out there?" The voice was gruff and a older man came into view. He had a large moustache, white like snow and he wore overalls.

                "Plea-" but he couldn't choke out the words loud enough. His tongue filled his mouth.

                The man approached as he fell to his knees from exhaustion. "My God son, what's happened to you?"

***

                Dean slammed his beer down on the table, the sound echoing through the bunker. "He's been missing for months Sam! When has he ever been gone this long and not been in trouble?"

                Sam flipped the page in his book. Dean had been drinking a lot lately, too much. Sam had tried everything to distract him. At one point, he was finding a new case before they even finished the first one. It wasn't working anymore. Sam was growing tired of listening to Dean go through the motions every night. Progressing from steadfast determination, to frustration and finally ending with anxiety and fear. Sober Dean would never share these things, but when drunk enough, he would ramble on at Sam until he passed out. Sam's heart ached for him, but he hadn't found any new leads and didn't know what he could do. After the argument, Sam thought things would be as they always were, and they would make up again later. He'd seen the aftermath of full on fist fights, and watched them come back to terms. Almost never apologising, but always coming back to a mutual agreement. This time, when Cas disappeared, he never returned. He'd never been gone this long. 

                Even after learning that God was parading around Earth in the guise of Chuck Shurley while the world fell to pieces, Sam was still devout, but even knowing there was a God did not stop Dean from continuing to question faith. So, Sam did not bother to tell Dean he prayed nightly, asking Cas to forgive Dean and return.

                "Don't ignore me Sammy!"

                Sam rolled his eyes up to look at Dean and sighed. "What do you want me to do Dean?"

                "There must be something in one of these books!" Dean pushed a pile over so that it spilled across the table and bumped into what Sam was reading.

                Sam sat back in his chair and spread his hands wide. "I've been reading for weeks Dean. Cas left by choice. We have no clues to-"

                "Maybe he left here by choice, but staying away this long..." Deans voice got softer as it drifted off and Sam knew they were into the final stages of his grief tonight. Soon, Dean would pass out and get what little sleep he can. Sam secretly looked forward to it. He made the most progress when Dean wasn't awake being drunk and distraught.

                During the night, Sam found a case nearby in Springfield, Missouri and finally convinced Dean they should go. Lately, Dean was like a machine on hunts. Focused and uncaring, blood splashed the ground as he sliced through the vampire's neck with his machete.  He bent down and wiped the blade on the dead vamp's clothes.

                "That's all of 'em Sammy." He marched back to the Impala without a second glance. Sam's shoulders slumped and he followed behind.

                Sam still couldn't get Dean to let him drive and Dean's driving had become more reckless, if that was possible. He crossed the centre line on the turns, the Impala's headlights flashing quickly against scattered trees along the sides of the road. However, the typical classic rock Dean blared in the car was silent tonight and Sam thought Dean looked deep in his own thoughts. It must have been around 2 am Sam guessed. He leaned his head against the window and stared at his reflection. The glass was cold on his forehead and the night was black. He estimated the drive back to the bunker to take another 2 hours. He considered a nap, he trusted Dean with his life after all. He couldn't help, but think about the night Cas left them, left Dean. Dean was a constant reminder, a neon sign of betrayal and suffering. How could Sam not be affected too?

                Sam came out of his room when he started to hear items breaking. Someone was throwing things in the common room of the bunker. Sam knew Dean and Cas had their limits, and found himself instead hoping none of the books were damaged. He could hear Dean, shouting.

                "You tell them to keep their feathered asses out of my business! I did my piece with them!"

                "Dean, if you would just calm down we-"

                Another loud smash. Cas still sounded calm and collected, like he did frequently, about well, everything. It took a lot to really upset him, but Sam knew Dean was pretty much the only one capable of that. Sam surmised it was Dean throwing things. Opposites attract, Sam mused as he came down the last stretch of hallway. He peered around the entrance and ducked just as a book flew his way. Damn it, these are one of a kind texts Dean! He picked the book up a few feet away. It had landed opened on the pages, but other than a slightly loose and wiggly spine, it seemed unscathed. He sat it on a chair and returned to the door. Dean had resumed yelling.

                "They can't order me around! I'm not one of their 'soldiers'!"

                "I understand, but as you know, I am still part of the Garrison and I must obe-"

                "Since when Cas? Huh? You've been on Team Free Will for years! How could you let this..."

                Sam thought about all the times Cas had fought with the Angels before. All the times he still helped them on hunts regardless. All the times he proved indispensable to defeating evil.  Ever since Chuck left with his sister Amara, it was quiet on Earth. Sam wondered if they were designing new worlds together somewhere, if he is teaching her how to create.  After they left, the boys had resumed the 'monster of the week' mentality. Cas had promised them prior arrangements had been made in Heaven, and this time it was going to be run well and justly. Unfortunately, the other Angels did not see things the same way Cas did. They still did not understand Cas' relationship to humanity, to Dean. It had been causing tension since.

                Suddenly, Sam woke up. His neck was stiff and his face was pressed against the glass of the window. I'm in the Impala? When did I fall asleep? He sat up and stretched as much as he could in the front seat. The Impala was parked on the side of the road, in a small stand of trees. Dean must've gotten too tired to continue. He turned as much as he could and gently craned his neck back to look behind him. Dean was asleep on the back seat. He climbed out of the car, the almost fifty year old door, creaking. Once free, he eagerly stretched his full six-foot-four inches and worked the kink out of his neck. He sauntered over to the closest tree and leaned against it. Unzipping his pants, he pulled himself out and relieved his bladder. Afterward, he wandered back over toward the road and surveyed his surroundings. It looked like they were back over the border to Kansas and he wondered why Dean had stopped so close to home. Sam heard some twigs snap and turned to look. Dean was zipping his pants as he came over.

                "I saw it Sam." Dean still seemed groggy, but unable to hold his thoughts.

                "It?"

                "Him, it was him."

                "What was, who? Not..."

                "You'd fallen asleep. There was a bright flash way out on the horizon last night. It blinded me and I had to stop." Sam was surprised Dean hadn't started driving toward it instead and it must have shown on his face. "I couldn't pin point the exact location, but I'm sure once you do some research we'll find signs to narrow it down." Dean nonchalantly turned toward the car. "Come on Sammy! Let's get on the road, I'm starving!" Sam followed, perplexed. That's it? One bright light and Dean's back to normal? Now maybe, they had a clue.