Hunting Humanity IX

BY : greenwizard
Category: Supernatural > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 421
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Supernatural universe. No monetary gain is coming from this story.

After Dean hung up on him the guy holding Liam and Sam hostage was extremely agitated. Sam managed to get him a little more focused by asking what the whole thing was about. They listened as the man took them back to June of 2003. “And that was the night that Dean Winchester murdered my father. And that's why he's gonna die.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam actually seemed to feel a little sympathy for the guy.

 

“I'm not looking for your sympathy, Sammy. I'm looking for your brother. So, why don't you tell me where Dean is, and then I'll let you go.”

 

“That's not gonna happen.”

 

“Really? Now, you know your brother gave me the, uh, green light to put one between your eyes, right? You too, blondie, so maybe you wanna speak up?”

 

Liam just rolled his eyes. “You really are thick. We know he doesn’t care about us, and we know why. Like I told you only a few minutes ago, he’s really not himself right now. So you might as well just do whatever it is you’re gonna do with us, whoever you are.”

 

“Name's Cole. Listen, Sam. Every night since I was thirteen years old; every night I close my eyes and all I can see is your brother and all that blood...and my daddy. Now, I know Dean's family and all, but he gave you up. And you have no reason to protect him, none. So help me. Please.”

 

“Look, I'm sorry about your dad. Whatever happened... Dean had a reason. I don't know how to tell you this. There are monsters out there,” Sam tried to explain.

 

“You don't think I know that? I did two tours in Iraq. Special Ops, Darfur...The Congo. I've seen suicide bombers and child soldiers so hopped up on speed that they could barely talk! Oh, but they could sure as hell shoot an AK.”

 

Sam let out a little sigh. “Not that kind of monster.”

 

“Don't tell me about monsters! Beause I've met my share.”

 

“So have we,” Liam said. “Only I think our definitions are a little different. When Dean was still Dean, together the three of us have killed werewolves and shapeshifters, and… you get the picture. Hell, when I met the Winchester brothers I was a vampire.”

 

Cole shook his head. “You must be some kind of psycho.”

 

“He kind of is,” Sam mused, “but he’s telling the truth. Things that people don’t believe exist anymore, they do.”

 

“Hell, your daddy was probably possessed by a demon,” Liam blurted out. Sam gave him a sharp glare. “What? We both know it’s probably true, and why lie? We’re tied to chairs in a barn and being threatened.”

 

Cole went over to a bag on a table and pulled out a hammer. “Well, since we can’t do this the easy way…” He looked to Liam. “You can take pain, but let’s see how you like watching me torture your, well, I guess he’s your brother in law.” He moved over to Sam and started punching him over and over again. “Where is he?” Cole demanded. “One of you better tell me.”

 

“Shove it up your ass,” Sam panted, blood dripping from his nose.

 

“I guess it's time to crank up the volume, then.” Cole picked the hammer back up and tapped Sam in the knee with it, making it clear he was going to swing. Before he could his phone rang. “Ain't you lucky, boy?” He answered it and took it outside.

 

“Thought he’d never leave,” Liam said as he started untying his legs.

 

“All this time?” Sam asked.

 

“For a little while. He’s good, but I’m better.” Once Liam had himself completely free he started working on Sam. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

 

As soon as they were a good ways away Sam pulled out his phone to call Castiel. “You need to get to Beulah, North Dakota,” he said when the angel answered.

 

“I do?” Castiel seemed a little confused.

 

“Yes. Crowley and Dean were there. We got to pick up their trail.”

 

“Good.”

 

“Yeah, um, not so much. Cas, Dean's a demon.”

 

“Dean's a demon? How?”

 

“The mark I guess, it just messed him up. I don't know.”

 

“That is a vast understatement.”

 

“Right. Now, Cas, listen. I know you're not feeling so hot, but this is kind of an all hands on deck situation here, so...”

 

“So, I'll meet you there.”

 

“Yeah.” Sam hung up and they found themselves in front of an abandoned house with a red truck in the yard.

 

Liam looked it over. “Doesn’t look like much, but considering our circumstances… I’ll leave the mechanical stuff to you.”

 

“That would be a good idea,” Sam agreed. “Though I might need some help, and you need to learn anyhow.”

 

They followed the trail to a strip club and had their FBI suits on while they questioned a beat up looking bouncer. Sam showed him Dean’s picture. “Hmm. That's the guy. I called 911, but he was gone before they showed up. That dude get to you, too?” the guy motioned to Sam’s arm.

 

“No,” Sam shook his head. “An accident on another case. Would you do me a favor? If you do see him again, will you give me a call?” Sam handed over one of his cards.

 

“Yeah. You bet.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

They got in the truck and drove off. “Now what?” Liam asked.

 

Sam sighed. “I guess we find the next bar or strip joint. He seems intent on enjoying himself as much as he can.”

 

“I knew it...” Liam mumbled under his breath and sank into the seat.

 

“Hey… no… This isn’t a reflection on you,” Sam tried to help. “Before the mark changed him, before it turned him into a demon, he loved you as much as he knew how. Don’t take it personally.”

 

Eventually they had to stop for the night at a motel. They were getting ready to continue their search in the morning when Crowley appeared behind them. “Hello, Bullwinkle. You miss me?”

 

“So much,” Sam growled and pulled out their knife.

 

“You're here for Dean. I'm here to give him to you.”

 

“What?” Sam couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

 

“The little prat's bad for business. He's uncontrollable. Must be the mark. Anyway, Dean's your problem now.”

 

“Then where is he?”

 

“First, there's the small matter of my finder's fee.”

 

“Do we even want to know?” Liam asked.

 

“I think you’ll be interested in this. All I want is the First Blade.”

 

Sam and Liam gave each other a look. “Deal,” Sam gave a little nod.

 

Crowley’s directions led them to a piano bar. Sure enough Dean was sitting at the piano. “Hiya, Sam, Liam,” he said without looking up as they entered. “Hey, Harv, why don't you go grab a smoke? Who winged you?” he asked when he saw Sam’s arm.

 

Sam swallowed hard. “Does it matter?”

 

“Not really. I told you two to let me go.”

 

“You know we can't do that. By the way, your, uh, pal Crowley sold you out.”

 

“Sounds like him.”

 

“Dean, hold on a second. You don't have to do this. Look, we know how to cure demons. You remember that?”

 

“Little Latin, lot of blood. It rings a bell. Did you ever stop to think that if I wanted to be cured, I wouldn't have bailed?”

 

“That was Crowley.”

 

Dean got a little smirk on his face. “It really wasn’t.”

 

“It doesn't matter, all right? Because whatever went down, whatever happened, we will fix it.”

 

“Will we? Because right now I'm doing all I can not to come over there and rip your throat out with my teeth. I'm giving you a chance, Sam. You should take it.”

 

“A chance?” Liam was clearly only barely holding himself together. “Whatever happened to the no more crap?”

 

“I tried to make a clean break. Not my fault you two just wouldn’t drop it and move on.”

 

Liam was shaking. “I think at this point you owe me a lot better than that.”

 

“I owe you? Well, I'm not walking out that door with you. I'm just not. So, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna kill me?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

“No,” Sam interrupted.

 

“Why? You don't know what I've done. I might have it coming.”

 

“Well, I don't care. Because you are my brother. I’m sure Liam feels the same, he’s just... And we’re here to take you home.”

 

Dean only laughed. “You're my brother, and I'm here to take you home. Yeah, what is this, a Lifetime movie? Huh? With your puppy dog eyes? Oh, thanks, Sammy. I needed that.” Sam pulled out the sigil etched handcuffs. “You really think those are gonna work?”

 

“There's one way to find out.”

 

Before they could do anything else a tear gas bomb came flying through the window. Sam and Liam had to run out gasping for air, and they ran into Cole who used their disorientation to knock them to the ground.

 

Dean came out after a minute and Cole trained his gun on him. “Wow. It's really you.”

 

“We met?” Dean asked.

 

“Talked on the phone.”

 

“You're the guy who's supposed to put a bullet in Sammy and Liam’s brains. Did you miss?”

 

“Well, I had a better idea. I figure if I let them escape, they'd go running to you, and all I had to do was just tag along. And now here we are, finally, Dean Winchester.”

 

“Great. A groupie.”

 

“You remember me?”

 

“You're that guy from that thing.”

 

“Nyack, New York, June 21, 2003.”

 

“That supposed to ring a bell?”

 

“It was the night you gutted and murdered a man by the name of Edward Trenton. He was my father.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay?” Cole was enraged.

 

“Well, hey, I'm not saying I didn't slice and dice your old man. I'm just saying that he wasn't the first, and he certainly wasn't the last, and they all just kind of get blended up.”

 

“I saw you that night. You let me live. That was dumb, real dumb. I spent half my life training for this moment. I've played out this fight a thousand times in my mind. And I know all about you, Dean. And you're good. Oh, you're real good. But, you see, I'm better.”

 

“Prove it. Take a shot.”

 

“Now, that's not payback.” He holstered his gun and pulled out a knife. “This is payback.”

 

Cole attacked, and Dean easily fended him off and took his gun. He took out the clip and threw it to the ground. “You know, and I'm just spitballing here, but uh, maybe you are not as good as you think you are.” Cole growled and attacked again, but was just thrown to the ground. “What did you think was gonna happen, huh? You just stroll up here and say my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die, and I'd just roll over? Well, that's just, it makes me sad.” As he leaned over Cole he didn’t see the guy pull another knife. Cole slashed him in the face and there was another struggle that ended with Dean grabbing Cole by the throat and slamming him against a car. “You have no idea what you walked into here, do you? None.” The cut on his face healed before their eyes.

 

Cole’s eyes went wide. “What are you?”

 

“I’m a demon.” He pulled out the First Blade and held it to Cole’s throat.

 

“Do it! You said if you saw me, you would kill me, so do it!”

 

Dean pulled back. “I guess I changed my mind,” he said as he let go of Cole.

 

Liam splashed holy water on Dean from behind. Dean whirled around to hit him, but the blond dodged and hit back harder. They struggled until Liam had Dean with his arms behind his back. Sam rushed in and snapped the cuffs on his brother. “Stop! It's over!” Sam shouted.

 

Dean glared daggers at them, but he was helpless. Liam looked over to Cole bloody on the ground while he yanked the First Blade away from Dean. “That’s how it’s done.” He wiped a little blood away from his own swollen lip. “I’ll summon Crowley so we can pay him.”

 

A few minutes later they were handing the blade over to Crowley. “A pleasure doing business,” Crowley gave them a little grin.

 

“What are you gonna do with it?” Sam asked curiously.

 

“Toss it into a volcano, leave it on the moon. I'll get creative. Believe me, I don't want Dean getting his hands on the precious any more than you do. Your brother knows I ratted. He tends to hold a grudge. I don't want to get boned.”

 

“This doesn't make us square. If I see you again...”

 

“Oh, stop it, Samantha. No one likes a tease.”

 

Crowley disappeared and Liam went to get in the back of the car where Dean was still handcuffed. “You gonna be okay back there?” Sam asked with concern.

 

“I’m not afraid.”

 

“That’s not what I… Okay.” Sam got in the driver’s seat and started back toward the bunker. “This thing is filthy,” he commented as he threw a fast food wrapper off to the side.

 

“It's just a car, Sam,” Dean snorted.

 

Sam was a little caught off guard. “Wow. You really have gone dark.”

 

“You have no idea.”

 

“You know what, Dean? I saw what happened back there. You could have killed that guy, and you didn't. You took mercy on him.”

 

“You call that mercy? Imagine you spend your whole life hunting down the guy that knifed your father. When you finally find him he whips you like a dog. How do you think that feels? That kid's gonna spend his whole life knowing that he had his shot and that he couldn't beat me. That ain't mercy. That's the worst thing I could have done to him. And what I'm gonna do to you two, Sammy... Well, that ain't gonna be mercy, either.”

 

Liam just gave him an icy glare. “You’re the one who’s gonna pay dearly. You know me, and I can’t lie to you, not about anything big anyway. Nobody does what you did to me and walks away unscathed.”

 

Sam glanced back. “Liam, I know you’re hurt and angry, but-”

 

“No, Sam. I was angry like two weeks ago. I don’t know what this is, but angry is in my rear view mirror.”

 

Once they reached the bunker and got Dean into the dungeon they had a little talk. Instead of doing things the same way they did with Crowley, taking blood directly from one of them, they were going to get blood that was blessed by a priest.

 

Sam left, and Liam stayed behind to keep an eye on things. After he got cleaned up he peeked in, his eyes full of mixed emotions. “Well, aren’t you just a sad little puppy,” Dean commented.

 

Liam opened the doors a little wider and stepped in. “That’s cute, trying to taunt me. But if you think that’s going to save you, then you just don’t know me as well as I thought you did.”

 

“Oh, I know you well. I know you’re pathetic and stupid. You so desperately need someone to love you because daddy had his own fucked up issues. And the old me, well, I was weak for a good sob story. Some of the things I did, a smart person would have left permanently. But you, you just took me back and forgave me because you got some sort of sick attachment.”

 

Liam only shrugged and leaned against the wall. “Maybe you’re right about some of those things. But there’s a very good chance that I’m only here right now because Sam has been a good friend to me. Maybe once he has his brother back I will leave for good.”

 

Dean laughed. “No, you won’t. You get pissed off and you throw your little tantrum. You talk a good game. But like I said, in the end you’re just a sad abandoned puppy that will do anything for a little affection.”

 

The conversation was interrupted by Sam coming in with a blood cooler. “For whatever it’s worth, I got your blood type,” he said as he prepared to start the ritual.

 

“Sam, I know you think you’re gonna try and fix me, but did it ever occur to you that maybe I don’t want to be fixed? Just let me go live my life. I won’t bother either of you. What do you care?” Sam started sprinkling the holy water on the ground and speaking Latin. “You think I’m just gonna sit here like Crowley? Getting all weepy while you shoot me up? Well, screw that. I don’t want this!”

 

“Funnily enough, we were smart enough to figure that out,” Liam shot back.

 

“You don’t even know if this is gonna work, do you? You know, I got a hell of a lot more running through me than just demon juice.”

 

Sam gave a little nod. “Mark of Cain, got it.” He picked up a syringe of blood and approached Dean. “Buckle up.”

 

“Sammy, you know I hate shots.”

 

“I hate demons.” Sam splashed holy water on his brother, and while Dean was distracted Sam plunged the needle in his arm and gave him the first dose. “Look, we got a whole bunch more of these to go. You could make it a lot easier on yourself.”

 

Dean’s eyes widened and he made awful groaning sounds. “Well, at least something is happening,” Liam commented, though he looked a little worried.

 

Sam pulled him aside. “Are you okay with all of this?”

 

Liam exhaled sharply. “Why do you keep asking me that? Neither of us are okay, and we both know that.”

 

“Yeah, but you… And you were alone with him for a little bit, and he knows what buttons to push.”

 

The blond crossed his arms. “I’m not any softer than you, and please don’t insult me by inferring that I am. From him it’s expected, but… I mean, the concern is appreciated, but let’s just do this.”

 

When the time came Sam gave Dean the next dose and he again growled in pain. “For all you know, you could be killing me.”

 

“Or you’re just messing with me. Either way, the lore doesn’t say anything about exceptions to the cure.” Sam seemed a little bit like he was trying to convince himself everything was going to be okay.

 

Dean only chuckled. “The lore. Hunters. Men of Letters. What a load of crap it all is! Oh, you got nothing?”

 

Sam raised an eyebrow. “You want me to debate you? This isn’t even the real you I’m talking to.”

 

“Oh, it’s the real me all right. The new real me, the me that sees things for what they really are. Winchesters. Do-gooders. Fighting the natural order. Let me tell you something, guys like me, we are the natural order. It’s the way it was set up.”

 

Sam only shrugged, not taking the bait. “Guys like me still got to do what we can.”

 

“Don’t be so full of yourself, Sammy. Because, see, from where I’m sitting there ain’t much difference from what I turned into to what you already are.”

 

“And what exactly is that supposed to mean?”

 

“I know what you did when you went looking for me. I know how far you went. Crowley told me all about it. So let me ask you, which one of us is really a monster? Starting to come back to you now?” Sam and Liam looked at each other for a moment. “You were trying to get a twenty on Crowley and me from any demon you could snag. But Crowley didn’t want to be found, and no one showed when you summoned. But you found a way, didn’t you? You would have liked to have gotten there before the deal went down, but you didn’t really care about poor old Lester, did you? Oh, and so you know, I killed Lester myself. And that wife of his married the tattooed guy.”

 

“Shit happens,” Liam pulled Sam back a little. “We didn’t exactly mean for it to all turn out that way, but nobody twisted Lester’s arm.”

 

“Who cares what you meant? That line that we thought was so clear between us and the things that we hunted ain’t so clear is it? Wow. You two might actually be worse than me! I mean, you took a guy at his lowest, used him, and it cost him his life and his soul. Nice work.” Sam plunged the needle into Dean’s neck to give him the next dose before leaning over the table to gather himself. “Let me ask you this, Sammy. If this doesn’t work, we both know what you got to do to me, right? You got the stomach for that, Sam?”

 

“If he doesn’t, I do,” Liam answered. “I mean, that’s probably what you want, hence why you’re trying so hard to push our buttons. But weather you like it or not we are going to try this and see if it works. If it doesn’t, then I’ll probably be just pissed enough to off you.”

 

Sam gave Liam a dirty look and headed out into the hallway. Liam followed with a sigh. “I thought you loved him,” Sam confronted the blond.

 

“I love the human. The demon I could easily throw into an active volcano. Look, I’m here and I’m doing my best. I told you I’m not okay. This is me really fucked up.”

 

“So, what do we actually do if this doesn’t go the way we want it to?”

 

Liam put a hand on Sam’s good shoulder. “Sam, I wasn’t bluffing. Maybe the purified blood is killing him. Maybe it won’t work because of the stupid mark. I don’t really know, but what I do know is there is no other option, and we sure as hell can’t let him stay a demon. It’s kinder to, well… Just prepare yourself while I go take a little break. You need anything?”

 

“No,” Sam shook his head. When Liam was gone he pulled out his phone and dialed Castiel’s number. “Cas. Hey, are you still coming?”

 

“I’m a few hours away. Is the treatment working?”

 

“No, not very well. Look, it’s not like it was with Crowley. Dean is in pain. I mean, he’s in bad pain. It’s like he’s barely holding on. Cas, I might be killing him.”

 

“It might be.”

 

“So what? Should I stop?”

 

“And do what? He’s not possessed. Exorcism is out of the question. The ritual of purified blood is the only treatment I know.”

 

“Cas, did you not hear what I just said? I could be killing my brother.”

 

“Sam, he’s not your brother. At least, not now. You have to be prepared for...”

 

“Yeah. I was hoping you could give me a different answer than the one I got from Liam. He’s...”

 

“Being practical. Sam, I’m sorry. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

 

“Yeah, alright. I’ll, uh … I’ll leave the entry unlocked for you. Just hurry.” He hung up and went back into the room. Dean was slumped over and not moving. Sam moved over to him and shook him. “Come back to me. You there? Hey! Dean, you okay?”

 

Dean stirred after several long seconds. “Yeah, if you consider drowning in your own sweat while your blood boils okay.”

 

“Look, I can’t stop doing this,” Sam was pained.

 

“Sure you can. You just stop! There’s no point in trying to bring your brother back now.”

 

“Oh, I will bring him back.”

 

“In fact, your uh… guilt ridden, weight of the world bro has been MIA for quite some time now. But I’m loving the new model: Lean, mean, Dean. You notice I tried to get as far away from you as possible? Away from your whining, your complaining. I chose the King of Hell over you! Maybe I was just tired of babysitting you. Or always having to yank your lame ass out of the fire since...” He paused a moment and laughed. “Forever. Or maybe it was the fact that my mother would still be alive if it wasn’t for you. That your very existence sucked the life out of my life!”

 

Sam looked like he was just punched in the gut, but he kept himself together. “This isn’t my brother talking.”

 

“You never had a brother! Just an excuse for not manning up. But guess what, I quit.”

 

“No, you don’t. You don’t get to quit. We don’t get to quit in this family! This family is all we have ever had!”

 

“Well, then, we got nothing.”

 

“Would you say that to Dad?” Sam took a shot back.

 

“Dad? Oh, there’s a prize. There’s a man who brainwashed us into wasting our lives fighting his losing battle!” Sam just turned to prepare the next syringe. “Is this you manning up?”

 

“This is me yanking your lame ass out of the fire.” Sam jabbed the needle into Dean’s arm and gave him the blood. “You’re welcome,” he mumbled as he left.

 

Liam found Sam in Dean’s bedroom looking at some pictures. “I see it was your turn,” the blond leaned against the door frame. “He’s doing what demons do, but he knows what buttons to push, as you said.”

 

Sam put the pictures back where he found them. “I know. And you’re right, the demon deserves to be thrown into an active volcano. But the human...”

 

“I’ve gotten through the past month by continuously telling myself that we’ll get him back. If I give up then I’ll just curl up on the floor and stay there. I mean, how many times do I have to lose him?”

 

Sam gave a little chuckle. “I hear you there. He died, he vanished into Purgatory, and now he’s a demon. Hopefully he’s more human now.”

 

They went back to check on Dean, but when they reached the dungeon the chair Dean had been in was empty. “Shit,” Liam let his head hang. “Well, the treatments are working well enough for him to get out of a devil’s trap.”

 

“Let’s split up,” Sam suggested. “Whoever finds him will call out and try to keep him occupied.”

 

Liam nodded and they started searching through the halls. After a few minutes the blond rounded a corner and bumped into Dean who was carrying a hammer. “Hi there,” Dean gave an evil smirk as he pinned Liam to the wall.

 

“Found him!” Liam shouted as loud as he could.

 

“Or did I find you?” Dean loomed over him. “Personally, I was hoping for some brother bonding time, but this works too.” Liam tried to squirm away, but Dean held him tight and whacked him in the side of the face with the hammer, causing blood to splatter everywhere. “Shame about the pretty face though.” The next hit was to the shoulder. “Even bigger shame that you’re too weak to put up a fight.”

 

Dean stepped back to take a harder swing, and Liam got free to dodge the blow. The hammer hit the wall and made a very loud bang, pieces of wall flying everywhere. The blond spit blood in Dean’s face and punched him in the nose. “You don’t know anything,” Liam tried to say, the words a little garbled.

 

“I know enough.” Dean took another swing at Liam’s thigh and managed to land a good hit. For a few minutes Dean beat Liam with the hammer, the cries of pain echoing through the halls, and only a few hits being dodged.

 

Sam followed the noise, and he rounded the corner quickly, holding the demon killing knife to Dean’s throat. “Dean, stop that! Look, I don’t want to use this blade on you!”

 

Dean paused, but he didn’t seem worried. “That sucks for you, doesn’t it? Because you really mean that.”

 

“If you don’t put that hammer down and let me finish, I won’t have a choice.”

 

“Sure you will! And I know which one you’ll make. Isn’t that right, Sammy? But see, here’s the thing. I’m lucky. Oh, hell, I’m blessed! Beause there’s just enough demon left in me that killing you ain’t no choice at all.” He took a swing at Sam who ducked and ran.

 

Dean ran a hand through his hair and chased after him. “Come on, Sammy! Let’s have a beer, talk about it. I’m tired of playing. Let’s finish this game!”

 

When Dean found Sam around another corner against the wall he raised his arm to strike again, but two arms wrapped around him from behind. It was Castiel, his eyes glowing blue. “Dean, it’s over.”

 

Dean screamed and struggled, but he couldn’t break free. Castiel helped get Dean strapped back into the chair in the dungeon before Sam sent the angel to tend to Liam. Sam waited in the hall, but kept one eye on Dean. Castiel returned only a few minutes later. “His injuries were extensive, but all is well.”

 

“Good,” Sam gave a little nod. “What I don’t get is I know he’s a better fighter than that.”

 

Castiel peeked in on Dean. “There is always a method to the madness.”

 

“That I learned years ago.” His eyes fell to the syringe of blood on the table. “What the hell are we doing to him, Cas? I mean, even after I gave him all that blood, he still said he didn’t want to be cured, that he didn’t want to be human.”

 

“Well, I see his point. You know, only humans can feel real joy, but also such profound pain. This is easier.”

 

Sam took a deep breath before picking up the syringe and making yet another needle mark in Dean’s arm. Dean groaned and his eyes went black, but then they returned to normal and he looked back and forth between his brother and the angel. “You look worried, fellas.”

 

Sam splashed him with holy water, and smiled in relief when there was no reaction. “Welcome back, Dean.”

 

Dean’s eyes suddenly went wide and his gaze met Castiel’s. “Liam...” he swallowed hard.

 

“He wanted me to tell you he was dead,” Castiel answered. “But he’s resting.”

 

“Guilt,” Sam put two and two together.

 

Dean slumped in the chair, a tear sliding down his cheek. “Even though Cas didn’t lie for him, it worked.”

 

Sam started tending to Dean and Castiel wandered up to the library. “How’s he doing?” Castiel asked when Sam came in.

 

“He’s still a little out of it, but better I think. I mean, I think this whole thing, all of it really wrecked him, you know? On the plus side, he’s hungry again, so I’m just going to go pick him up a big bag of crap food and stuff it in his face myself. You mind keeping an eye?”

 

“Yeah,” Castiel moved to go back to the dungeon, but then he paused. “You realize one problem is solved, but one still remains. Dean is no longer a demon, that’s true. But the Mark of Cain, that he still has. And sooner or later, that’s going to be an issue.”

 

Sam’s shoulders dropped. “You know what, Cas? I’m beat, man. One battle at a time, you know? So I’m just gonna go grab my brother some cholesterol. And then, I’m gonna get drunk.”

 

Castiel went to Dean’s room where he was sitting on the bed looking at the pictures. “You look terrible,” Castiel commented as he stepped inside.

 

Dean let out a soft laugh. “You know, I appreciate you not lying before, but it wouldn’t kill you to lie every now and again.”

 

“No, it wouldn’t kill me. I just …”

 

“Forget it. Well, you, on the other hand; looking good. So… Are you back?”

 

“At least temporarily. It’s a long story. Crowley, stolen grace. There’s a female outside in the car. Another time.”

 

“Well, thank you for, um… Stepping in when you did. So, what’s the verdict? Am I voted off the island?”

 

“I’m sure they know that the things that happened, it wasn’t really you. It certainly wasn’t all you.”

 

Dean let out a quiet sob. “Cas, I nearly beat him to death. If it wasn’t for you… And then I tried to do the same to Sam.”

 

“We all know he let you. He knew I was on my way, and he knew that because of the state you were in… What you’re feeling now, that’s your punishment. If he didn’t love you he wouldn’t have put himself through everything he went through. And Sam, the two of you have been through so much. It’d take a lot more than trying to kill Sam with a hammer to make him want to walk away.”

 

A little smile ghosted Dean’s lips. “You realize how screwed up our lives are that that even makes sense? I’m glad you’re here, man.”

 

“Hey, maybe you should um … take some time before you get back to work. Allow yourself to heal. The timing might be right. Heaven and hell, they seem reasonably back in order. It’s quiet out there. Maybe get a few dozen pink roses and...”

 

Dean gave a little nod. “Yeah, might be a good idea.”



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