After his failed attempt to talk to Castiel, Dean went back home, opened a brand new bottle of Whiskey and drank about half of it in the hour that followed. When his brother called to check on him, he was well past the point of no return.
The conversation didn’t last long, Dean being unable to keep track of Sam’s questions. Sam finally told Dean to go to bed and to take a big glass of water before doing so, and promised to call first thing in the morning before hanging up. Dean kept drinking, before passing out on the couch, the bottle squeezed under his arm.
The next morning wasn’t glorious either. Dean woke up to his phone ringing, just to find himself all sticky. It took him a moment to realize the Whiskey bottle had tipped overnight, spreading whatever was left in it everywhere on Dean and the couch. It smelled awful, and the moment he tried to sit up, a humongous headache appeared out of nowhere. He scrambled for his phone, to notice that Sam had tried to call three times already.
“Hello?” He answered in a groggy voice.
“Dean! Jesus Christ, it’s about time!” Sam’s voice was filled with panic and anger, but mostly with relief. “You scared the shit out of me, I thought you were in trouble or something.”
“I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been better” Dean said, his head throbbing. “What time is it?”
“Almost 11AM. Are you okay? Do you need me to come over?”
“No, no, I was heading out anyway. I need to see Cas.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with? You don’t sound too great to me.”
“I’m fine, Sam. Just a little hungover, is all.”
Little was definitely not the appropriate term. He'd had rarely experienced such a headache. The room was still spinning, he felt like the ground was tipping over under his feet, and he knew he was about to throw up.
“I gotta go.”
Dean hung up before Sam could answer and tried to get up, seeking support on every solid surface he could find. He barely made it to the bathroom.
It’s only a few hours later, after puking out pretty much everything he had in his stomach and after a long, hot shower that he finally summoned enough strength to get out of his apartment and get behind the wheel.
Even though there was a good chance Cas wouldn’t be there today, he had to give it a try. If there was one thing that was clear in his mind, it was that he couldn’t give up just yet. He had to try again. He had to keep trying until Cas listened to him or until…
He shut his eyes tight, trying to bring his focus back on the road. Concentrating was hard.
He made it to the Galleria God knows how, and entered the Cheesecake Factory, ignoring everyone, Just like the day before. This time, though, Charlie wasn’t the one behind the bar. Castiel was.
Dean was in shock. Castiel looked horrible. His skin was a pale, greyish taint, like Cas had been stuck inside for too long. His hair was greasy, he had huge bags under his eyes. His lips were more chapped than usual. He seemed tired and disconnected, like he had put his body and mind on autopilot. His eyes were still a magnificent blue, but they were lifeless, empty. The joy and happiness that were usually there were gone, to only show pain and loneliness.
Holy shit, what have I done?
He looked around and was glad to notice there was no one within earshot.
“Cas?” He said hesitantly.
The moment Castiel heard his name, he froze and closed his eyes. His face turned into one of pure anger and Dean could almost feel the emotions coming out of Cas, like he had the power to send whatever he was feeling through powerful waves. Dean wasn’t welcomed, and he didn’t need a neon sign to understand. Despite all that, he pushed anyway.
“Cas, please, listen to me. I’m sorry-”
“Charlie!” Cas yelled toward the staff room.
There was a loud crashing noise, a few cusses and the door opened, letting a dishevelled Charlie pass through.
“What?! What’s going on?”
“Can you please escort this fucktard out? I’ve got important things to do. I don’t have time for this.”
It’s only then that Charlie noticed Dean and by the look she gave him, he probably looked worse than Cas.
“Now, Charlie” Castiel said in a tone so harsh, both Charlie and Dean flinched, before heading straight for the staff room.
They both stood there in silence, looking at each other. Dean could feel his legs about to give up on him, his heart beating in his ears. He had Cas, right there in front of him, and he couldn’t say a single coherent word.
“Dean, are you okay? Dean, look at me. Dean!”
“Yeah, no, I’m not okay, I feel like I’m about to faint.”
Charlie skirted around the bar and grabbed Dean’s arm, helping him to the nearest chair.
“Stay there. Don’t move.”
She got back behind the counter, poured him a glass of cold water and came back with it. She also had a damp towel in hand that she placed on the base of Dean’s neck.
“Thanks” Dean mumbled.
“What happened to you?”
“Castiel, that’s what happened. More accurately, a very, VERY, pissed off Castiel. And a lot of guilt on my part.”
“He didn’t tell me what happened. He just said you guys weren’t together anymore.”
“I fucked up, Charlie. I was a dick. I said things I shouldn’t have said, to him or to anyone.” He took the towel and wiped his face with it, breathing deeply. “Please, let me talk to him.”
“That is so not my call, Dean” she snorted. “I mean, you saw yourself how he reacted. He didn’t go easy on me either.”
“I know, Charlie, but can you at least try? Don’t do it for me, I don’t deserve it. But please, do it for him. I hate seeing him like that, and I bet you don’t enjoy it either. This is not him. He deserves to be happy and he deserves the truth. And the truth is, Benny pissed me off and I reacted badly and I know it’s no excuse, but believe me when I say I regret everything I said and that I will forever feel guilty for what I did. I just wanted Benny to leave me alone. Charlie, I… I love him. Deeply. I don’t even remember what my life was like before him, and we’ve only been together five months. I just… I don’t know what to do. If he’s better without me, then so be it. But if you think there’s only a small chance that he could be happy with me, that we could be happy together, then please, I beg you, talk to him. Please.”
Charlie was looking at Dean, unsure what to do. But after a moment of reflection, she finally answered.
“You know, I’ve seen you two together. You guys are so in sync, it’s unbelievable. You walk at the same pace, you communicate with just a glance, and sometimes without even looking at each other. You just know instinctively what the other is going to do, you know how the other is going to move. I’ve seen that kind of chemistry only in old couples, and even then, it only happened a couple of times. And Cas was happy with you. The happiest I’ve seen him in a very long time. He opened up to you. So yes, I believe there’s a chance.”
“You’ll talk to him?” Dean asked, hope in his voice.
“Yes. But don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly pissed at you. Pissed doesn’t even start to touch it. And I swear, if this works and you break his heart a second time, I’m gonna kick your ass so hard you won’t be able to sit for a whole year. Did I make myself clear?”
“Absolutely. And don’t worry about the ‘broken heart’ part. I promise I’ll take care of him.”
“Yeah, that’s what they always say. Now go back home. Take some rest, you look like shit. I’ll text you when I have something.”
Once Dean was gone, Charlie asked for one of the waiters with an empty section to manage the bar for a few minutes before heading for the staff room where Cas was still locked in. She slowly pushed the door open, to find him sitting on the ground, knees close to his chest, beside his own locker. She stood in front of him.
“What the hell was that? Since when am I your bodyguard and since when am I supposed to take out your own trash?”
Castiel dropped his head in his hands and let out a sigh. “I’m truly sorry, Charlie. I was pissed and anxious and I needed to get out.”
“You know, Cas, you practically work side by side, you can’t dodge the guy forever. You’ll have to face him eventually.”
“That’s exactly it : eventually. Not today.”
Charlie sat down beside Castiel, resting her head on the locker behind her. “He’s really sorry. Really. He was on the verge of tears telling me how much he loves you and regrets what he said. That’s gotta be worth something.”
“That’s also everything Raphael did and said after beating me to a pulp. Every time. So no, for me that’s bullshit. Actions and respect are worth something, not words.”
“He came all the way here to explain himself. Two times already. You told me you punched him in the face and he didn’t even try to defend himself, and as I saw a few minutes ago, you didn’t go easy on him. Even when you gave him a reason, he didn’t raise a hand on you. How’s that for actions and respect?”
“That’s not the question, Charlie. He basically said I was his personal toy and that he could do whatever the fuck he wanted with me. I don’t care if he meant it or not. He still said it.” Castiel unfolded his legs and stood up. “I don’t want to talk about him. This conversation is over.”
Sam was lying on the couch beside Jess, both of them in a comfortable silence. She was reading a book, while he just lied there, trying to relax and enjoy this one rare moment of peace. He was about to doze off when his cell phone rang. He sighed.
“Do you want me to get it for you, babe?” Jess asked.
“No, it’s okay. It’s probably work anyway. Gordon was working one hell of a case this week, he probably just wants my opinion on something.”
Sam got up and walked to the kitchen, unplugging his phone from its charger, and frowned as he saw Dean’s number flash on the screen.
“Sammy! How’re you lil bro?”
“I’m… Fine, but you obviously aren’t.”
“Me? Pfffff, I’m feelin’ GREAT, bro!”
Sam could hear the slur in Dean’s words, and even if he couldn’t hear it, he would’ve known Dean was wasted : he only called him ‘bro’ when he had too much to drink.
“You shouldn’t be drinking right now, Dean.”
“ ‘Mnot drinking.. Not now, ‘nyway.”
“You know what I mean. Where are you? Are you home at least?”
“Yes, yes I’m home. But I might go out. There’s no more beer. I need more beer.”
“No you don’t. And you obviously can’t drive anyway.”
“Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do. I’m a grown ass man.”
“Okay you know what, I’m coming over. You need help.”
“Bring beeeeeer, bro!”
“You stay put, okay? I’ll be there in less than thirty.”
“ ‘ll stay put if you bring beer!”
“I’ll bring beer. Just relax and wait for me, okay?”
“ ‘m gonna try.”
“Dean, I’m serious, you wait for me.”
“Yeah, yeah, hurry up” Dean said before hanging up.
“Babe, what’s going on?”
Jessica was standing in the doorframe, looking worried.
“Nothing. Dean’s completely drunk. I’ll go check over him a bit, he worries me.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“Nah, I’ll be fine. I just want to be sure he doesn’t do anything stupid. I might sleep over to make sure he’s okay throughout the night, though.”
“Okay.” She approached him and gave him a soft kiss. “Go change, I’ll prepare your bag.”
As promised, less than 30 minutes later, Sam was at Dean’s door. He’d made his best to look calm in front of Jessica earlier, but in reality, he wasn’t feeling good at all about this. His heart was beating a lot faster than normal, he could feel his brain trying to stay focus. He was trying his hardest to push away the flashbacks of his drunk father, and those fewer flashbacks of Dean being so drunk he couldn’t even stand.
Of course, Dean was drinking a lot more than the average Texas man, but he rarely got really drunk. Because he hated waking up in the morning and be reminded of how much he’d acted like John. They’d fled to Bobby’s when Dean finally got old enough and strong enough to fight back and defend Sam, and he hated being in the same state of drunkenness their dad was half the time.
But there were times when Dean’s demons wouldn’t go away, and those moments were the worst. Like tonight.
Sam knocked and waited a few seconds, but when he realized Dean wasn’t going to answer, he pulled out his spare key from his jeans’ pocket and unlocked the door.
“Dean? Dean, where are you?” he said, his voice betraying his nervousness.
There wasn’t a whole lot of places where he could be, his apartment having only three rooms and a bathroom. When you stepped inside, you were directly in the kitchen. On the left, you had a small hallway with the bathroom being the first door you’d encounter, the bedroom being the second door, and at the end of the hallway, the living room.
Sam went through the corridor, opening the bathroom door and checking in, without seeing his brother anywhere. He did the same with the bedroom, his anxiety rising by the second as he realized Dean was nowhere to be found. He ultimately reached the living room and let out a deep sigh as he saw Dean sprawled on his couch, looking vaguely at the ceiling.
“Dean, man, answer me when I call you. You had me worried.”
When Dean didn’t answer, Sam walked over to him and sat on the floor, so he could be at the same height as Dean. His brother’s eyes were fixated on nothing in particular, just wandering on the ceiling, looking but not seeing. He was clearly lost in thoughts, thoughts that were probably as smudged as Dean looked like. Sam took a few moments to collect himself before speaking.
“So I guess your grand gesture didn’t work as well as planned?”, Sam said after a while.
“I couldn’t even do the grand gesture, Sammy”, Dean answered. “When I got to the mall the other day with you, he wasn’t even there.”
“I thought you said he was working.”
“He was supposed to!” Dean said angrily. “But he called in sick. Probably because he knew I’d come.”
“What did you do?”
“I drove to his house, thinking he might be there. But he wasn’t. I waited a couple hours and he never came back.”
There was a moment of silence as Sam processed what had happened. So that’s why Dean had drunk dialled him the first time. He’d probably went straight for his bottle of whiskey after coming back from Castiel’s. But then, what had triggered tonight’s episode of self pity? Sam decided the best thing to do in the circumstances, was to directly ask Dean. He was probably too drunk to even tie his shoes properly, so he probably wouldn’t get all the subtleties of Sam’s questions if they weren’t straight to the point.
“And what happened today to get you to drink your entire stock of beer?”
“I went back to his work. And he was there.” There was a moment of silence as Dean obviously got lost in thoughts again. “And he ran away. He asked Charlie to show me out.”
Aouch, Sam thought. That’s harsh.
But again, Dean kind of deserved it. Sam was all for helping his brother get Cas back, but he knew too that what had happened would be hard to forget for Castiel. Having your biggest insecurities displayed like they weren’t important, like they were there just to serve your attention seeking ass, that was one hard blow you had to get through, even though the blow was unintentional-ish. The thing was, Sam didn’t know if Cas could find in him the strength to forgive Dean. He didn’t know if he would find it in himself to forgive Dean if he ever did something like that to him.
“Maybe he needs a bit of space to sort through his feelings. And I think you should consider doing the same.” Sam suggested, hoping his brother would get the hint.
“I can’t, Sam. I can’t stand by and watch him walk away.” Dean’s voice cracked and tears filled his eyes. “I can’t lose him. Not him. Of all people, not him.”
“I get it, Dean, I really do. But for now, there’s nothing you can do. Let me help you get to bed and we’ll talk about this tomorrow, okay? You’re in no state to take any big decision. As a matter of fact, any decision at all.” Sam rose, and grabbed Dean’s arm to help him sit up. “Come on. I’ll help you.”
When Dean woke up in the morning, the only thing he could really feel in his whole body was a colossal headache. He hadn’t opened his eyes yet and he knew that the pain would be even worse when he would. He started by moving his feet, then his hands and arms, but the moment his shoulders came in action, he felt a bolt of pain in his skull and he winced in agony. He vaguely remembered last night. He remembered Sam coming over. Sam helping him to bed. But what have they talked about? That was a complete mystery.
He heard someone making coffee in his kitchen, and guessed Sam had spent the night. He wished he could stay in bed for the rest of the day, but he knew his brother would come in any minute to wake him up.
It took him what seemed like hours to just sit on his bed, his palms on his eyes as he tried to stop the room from spinning. He found on his bedside table two pills and a glass of water Sam had put there somewhere between his arrival yesterday and this morning. It took the pills and drank the entire glass of water, hoping the cold drink would help him see clearer. The only thing it did was to wash off a bit of that acid taste he still had from the night before. The pills wouldn’t work for another 20 minutes, if they worked, but Dean had a feeling they wouldn’t be of much use. His head hurt so much, he could feel every single movement of every single hair. It felt like tiny needles all over his scalp.
Before he could completely get up though, Sam carefully knocked on his closed door before entering, a fresh cup of coffee in one hand and another two pills in the other.
“Morning..” he said, sitting beside Dean. “I see you already take two, but take two more. Pretty sure you’ll need it if you wanna get out of bed today.”
Sam’s low voice brought him pain and relief at the same time, the sound in itself being hard on Dean’s fragile skull, but also being smooth and calming.
“And what if I don’t want to get out of bed?”
“Take them, no matter what. It’ll help.”
Dean grabbed the cup of coffee and tablets from Sam’s hands and drank a few sips as he swallowed the pills again. He expected a rejection of some sort from his body as he tasted the coffee, but apparently his stomach was strong enough to take it, even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to eat anything for a few more hours.
“So about last night…” Sam started.
“I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“That’s the thing, Dean, I don’t give a shit about what you want right now. We’re going to talk about this, no matter how much you try to flee. Besides, you don’t have to talk, you just have to listen.”
Dean nodded, too tired and in pain to argue with his brother.
“Good. It’s obvious that you need help. I know your breakup is fairly recent, but you can’t go on like this. I know working doesn’t sound like a good plan, but you can’t stay inside all day, having a pity party with yourself and your bottle of whiskey. Working is good for you, you need to think about something else, to let your emotions settle down. Plus, if you don’t go back to work, you might lose your apartment, and I know you don’t want that. I called Benny and he told me you were supposed to come in today, but he said he’ll cover for you if you take his shift tomorrow. That gives you today to relax and prepare your stuff for tomorrow. As for help, I also called Jessica this morning. We want you to come over in about a week, so we can talk about what we can do to help you get back on the right tracks. Again, I know it sounds a lot right now, but I’m doing this for you. You can’t keep going round and round in that vicious circle or you’ll lose yourself. I still can’t force you to do any of this, so I’d like you to tell me if that’s all okay with you.”
“It is. You’re right. I shouldn’t let myself go, that’s not how I’ll get him back.”
“Exactly. So you’re gonna sober up, go to work tomorrow and come over next week. It’s gonna get better Dean. I promise.”
But as Dean heard these words, he had a dreadful feeling that this was just the beginning, no matter how much Sam wanted to help him. He knew, deep down, that he was doomed. He was trapped in the ninth circle of Hell, swimming into deep water, that eternal lake slowly freezing around him keeping him prisoner, his head the only thing coming out of the ice. He was feeling the cold inside him, the exhaustion in his body, the pressure around his throat, choking him. He knew, deep down, that it wouldn’t get better. He knew he wouldn’t get out of this in one piece.
“I know, Sam. It’s gonna be okay.”