Author: Thanfiction PM
Everything's not enoughRated: Fiction T - English - Dean W. & Castiel - Words: 4,184 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 1 - Published: 01-10-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8895280
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They say you always remember your first, and he did. He'd had a beer before, or at least part of one, but it'd been his first real shot of the hard shit. Wild Turkey bourbon, rich and round and good for its price in ways he hadn't been able to remotely appreciate behind the shock of the burn.
Ten years old, shoulder still aching from the kick of the shotgun after his first hunt. Made perfect sense in hindsight why Dad had taken him; straight-up vengeful spirit kid, all too eager to show up for a potential playmate and give plenty of time for Dad to burn his bones while he was trying to play hopscotch with Dean. These days, something like that hardly counted as a milk run, but back then, he'd nearly pissed himself. He'd been shaking and trying so hard not to cry in front of Dad that he couldn't stop hiccupping and felt like he might crap his pants, but then Dad had given him a pull from the flask and grinned when he hadn't puked it out, putting a hand on his shoulder that felt like the hand of God through the thrift store denim jacket. "Did okay back there, Dean."
In that moment, he'd been on top of the goddamned world. But it hadn't been enough. Never enough. No matter how many monsters, how many days and nights and weeks of looking after Sammy, it was there and unspoken. He wasn't John's peer and he wasn't Mary. The two things he really needed, and Dean couldn't hack it as either. He'd let him down over and over and over again.
And yet when he'd come home from a three-week hunt when Sammy was seven and found out that Dean had let him get a raging case of strep throat that meant a two-hour drive to the nearest pediatrician who didn't ask questions, he'd just teased him how hard it must have been to stay out of the ice cream that had been all Sammy could handle. When Dean had gotten the shit beat out of him by that ghoul and arrested at seventeen and Dad had to pawn the necklace that was Mary's sweet sixteen present to pay the bail, he'd just ruffled his hair and laughed about my boy's first outstanding warrant. And when Dean had cost him 100 years under Alastair's knife, he'd come back to save his ass from Azazel.
Too much. Not nearly enough. Not enough to erase what it was like to be nine and trying to comfort Sammy in a motel somewhere in Tennessee with Dad four days gone and the food running out when his first tooth came out bloody and Dean had been half sure it was malnutrition, or maybe witches and he couldn't do anything about either. Not enough to erase the look in Dad's eyes when Sammy walked away towards Stanford and he'd screamed "So you get a future and I get Dean, is that it, you ungrateful bastard?!" Not enough to erase the way he'd looked under Baby's hood after they'd spent a year hunting for him and pointed out that Dean had missed an oil change. Not enough.
Never fucking enough. The first shot was Wild Turkey.
He remembered the first time he'd gotten blackout drunk. Sixteen years old, Dad had been gone too long and he'd done things he'd never be able to forget to get them fed and sheltered and get them to Bobby's place, and Bobby didn't say anything, but he must have read something in his eyes. Because he reheated some spaghetti and put Sam to bed, then told Dean they needed to sit down and figure out what was gonna happen if John never resurfaced. And there had been a bottle of Black Velvet on the table just like when he had planning sessions with Rufus, and Dean had known what it meant.
It meant you're a man now, like it or not, and the bad news is you've got a man's problems and the good news is I'll let you cope like a man too. And when Dean poured not a shot, but a tumbler, he didn't argue, and when he took it down too fast and threw it up, he just called him an idjit and made some new spaghetti and given him a terse rundown that shots are that size for a reason, dumbass, that you drink water with it if you want to be able to hold a gun tomorrow, and you clean up your own puke while I make you a sandwich because you don't do it on an empty stomach til you're older. And where does John keep y'all's immunization records?
Because Bobby was there for him, always there for him. Weeks and months of staying at his place and eating his food and drinking cases of beer and bottles of whisky and using tubs of laundry detergent and who even knew how many thousands of dollars of parts for Baby he'd always insisted he happened to have lying around and use of his tools and ammo and gun oil and rock salt and gauze and catgut and call at three in the morning panicked begging what in the FUCK bleeds blue and shrugs off iron and could we get that quick because it's breaking the door down, and Bobby'd put up with it all. Put up with it all and Dean had taken him for granted even as he knew he didn't deserve any of it, and how the fuck did that even work?
How was it any kind of fair when he'd done so much for them; shanked himself and sold his soul and given up everything and then some and gone underground and to the edge of the apocalypse and been willing to take a pass on paradise and risk becoming a vengeful spirit after they'd screwed the pooch bad enough to get him shot in the fucking head…and what had Dean given him? Lip and attitude and defiance and more and more demands and when all Bobby'd wanted was to see him get out, he'd gone and fucking thrown it all away and come back to this nightmare and taken more. Taken and taken and no matter how much Bobby gave, it was never enough until he had no more to give. And they'd still found a way to take more, hadn't they? Down to the moment that flask melted into the embers of the brazier and even then, hadn't his only thought been not yet, don't go, I still need you?
Never fucking enough. Next shot was Black Velvet.
He remembered the first time he'd really gone into withdrawals from booze. It had been his second day in Purgatory, and who knew what that meant in topside time, but it had felt Hell-long down there. The heat hadn't helped when he was already fevered and nauseated and shaking and who the hell even knew how much he was keyed up from the hunter becoming the prey of every monster down there, of being the cop behind bars in max, and what was how he was goddamned hallucinating the red wax of Maker's Mark in the spray of monster blood. Searching for Cas and searching for relief and seeing a glimpse of trenchcoat and smelling peaty caramel where neither was real and so afraid of finding scorched wings and empty bottles.
Halfway up a tree or wedged into rocks to be something like safe and try uselessly for something like sleep and not knowing where tears streamed into sweat and need bled between brown glass and blue eyes to just be something begged and pleaded and empty and lost and alone and a despair that was neitherboth hate and love. Knowing he was losing his mind and not caring, knowing he was racking up kills that would make him a legend if anyone knew and not caring, staying alive and not caring because it wasn't what he needed.
Never fucking enough. The next shot was Maker's Mark.
He remembered the first time drink he'd had since coming back; at a tourist trap hole in the wall Downeast, bought with a lifted wallet in his pocket and the dirt of the crossroads under his nails and the blood of the fight out still salty in his teeth. He'd opened his mouth to order whisky and heard himself order a shot of Mount Gay rum and grinned when he'd tasted the dark molasses spice because he somehow knew what it would be and knew it had been that way since dudes ran around in wigs and short pants and knew as his arm throbbed that it meant oh yeah, they'd both made it. Laughed and ordered another for himself and toasted Benny, "the only bastard one of your kind I'll ever trust" and winked to the mirror, damn the barkeep's funny look.
And as trust went, asking a fang who hadn't gotten a taste of human blood for fifty years to stitch up your back where a wendigo had slashed you up was a little beyond something you'd find in the goddamn dictionary. Sure, he'd still had his weapon, but there were no illusions how nothing that'd mean if the teeth came down, and he knew, he knew all too personally just how intense that hunger was. Benny hadn't just kept his pointy bits to himself, he'd helped gank who even knew how many monsters, including plenty of his less sociable siblings and including standing watch every night while Dean slept. He'd been an ally who became a comrade who became a friend, and when he'd promised that their plan to get him out wouldn't vamp Dean because "it's not my blood, it's my soul, and there ain't no corner of my soul wants to see you turned," he'd believed him. And it had been true.
True, and how many times had Benny earned it, how many times saved Deans life, how many times resisted that pull that was like wanting oxygen at the bottom of drowning, and how had he been repaid now? Promises of loyalty made on a Louisiana night as hot and sticky as Purgatory couldn't bring back Andrea or gloss over that it had been Dean's blade that took her head off, couldn't pretend that it hadn't been Dean's little brother who'd sicced the hunter who'd destroyed his home and his family and the last remains of everything he'd come back for in the first place. Benny was more alone, more hunted now than he'd been on the other side, and there would never be enough oldschool Barbados rum or speed-dial platitudes to wash that away.
Never fucking enouch. The next shot was Mount Gay.
He remembered the first time since being back topside he'd decided to get well and truly shitfaced. Remembered because it had been what, fifteen, twenty minutes ago? Lying there on that rough, plasticy comforter in that motel room where they used too much Febreeze and it still reeked of cheap cigarettes and bad idea fucking and watching the neon signs across the street blink and taunt and the screen of his cell phone blink and taunt as it rang on silent as if by turning the sound off he didn't have to know that Sammy kept calling. Ignoring it, because he didn't need to talk to him to know he was losing him, losing him in ways that were so much worse than having him die in his arms because you could do something about that.
There was nothing to do about this. He'd known it in the dark cold places you don't look for oh, son of a bitch, could it seriously be twenty-five years now? Ever since that lady at the grocery store had called Sammy smart and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he'd said a lawyer or a doctor and Dean had seen in the back of his eyes that it wasn't just what you say because you don't explain monster-killer to normal people. Because if him being nine was twenty-five years ago, then Sam was pushing up on thirty now and no wonder he hadn't come after him, no wonder he'd breathed a sigh of relief that he could finally get on with the life he should have had. Thirty. Jesus fucking Christ.
He should be done with law school now, doing the five year anniversary thing with Jess, a kid in preschool and another starting to waddle around and drool too much, SUV in the driveway of two stories of good school district. He should have no idea what Hell smells like or how Lucifer covers Zeppelin or what you can do to innocent people when you don't have a soul to stop you. He shouldn't rub at his lower back sometimes in a way that Dean knows he won't admit is from spending way too much time crammed in a car that's too small for him on the way to shitty beds that are too small for him in a life that's shoving a good man with a brilliant mind into the existence of a rock-salt thug.
Dean still hated him for it, because existing without Sammy meant things he'd never survive. It meant back to Purgatory where he'd had Cas and Benny or back to Michegan and Lisa and Ben, but both of those had been lives where the good things were bought at prices so high it was like breathing hot glass. And both of those were gone for him just as surely as Jager bombs with law school buddies and a wallet full of baby pictures and sharing a good bed with Jess were gone for Sam, and it was the ugly truth and no bullshit about family could be enough to fix it. He'd been failing Sammy since he was five and let him eat dog shit in front of the Texaco because it had seemed funny; since he'd let him die, since he'd left him, since he'd let Lucifer take him, since he'd left him again, and so many times in between that the score could never be settled.
Never fucking enough. The next shot was Jager.
"Buddy, I'm cutting you off."
The bartender's voice came like a bullet through soup, and he brought his head up faster than he should have, flipping the empty shot glass and slamming it down with more force than strictly needed to make his point. "One more."
"Sorry -" There was no real sympathy and too much condescension to the shake of his head, and Dean felt suddenly infuriated.
Where the hell did this little hipster douchepimple with his stupid gay-ass skinny jeans and his ridiculous Clark Kent glasses think he was to cut him off when he wasn't even drunk yet? When he could take down most of a fifth and still gank a running werewolf with a heartshot fuckyouverymuch. He leaned forward, pushing the glass slowly across the counter and off the other side. "I said, one more."
Douchepimple looked scared, and for a moment, Dean thought he had won. Then the guy who'd been working the other side of the bar turned around, and this bastard looked like he'd been pouring booze for bikers since before Douchepimple had written his first haiku. He picked up the glass, wiping it on a bar rag without breaking eye contact. "You had five in a row that ain't hit you yet, and when it does, dude, you've got mean-ass drunk written all over you and that pigsticker in your boot, so you're gonna get the hell outta my bar before -"
The stool clattered to the floor as Dean pushed to his feet, not meaning to knock the rest of the empty shot glasses to the floor but not really caring and more than half glad to hear at least two of them break. "Are you throwing me out? Seriously?!"
And then, out of a kind of impossible slightly to the left of you've got to be fucking kidding me but just inside must be hallucinating, there's the smell of a lightning storm over a lake, a hand on his shoulder that makes every nerve from waist to fingertips tingle, and a voice that sounds like it's been dragged through life by razor wire. "He's with me."
The bartender frowns, crosses his arms. It's a familiar look, not just because the coat and the suit and the permanently backwards tie are even more out of place than usual in this sea of denim and band shirts and flannel but because there's something about Cas that screams Not One Of You, and even people who don't understand that 'you' means 'human' can pick up on it a mile away. "And you are?"
"My name is Castiel." His hand is still on Dean's shoulder, and now he wishes more than ever that he hadn't been cut off, because he hasn't had nearly enough to address that this can of feathery zappy worms exists, much less that he's apparently decided he's bored with geezer babysitting duty already.
"Just 'Castiel'? What kind of a name is that?" Oh look, Douchepimple must have realized that the things that hurt when he tries to sit in those jeans are kinda like balls. He's sneering at Cas like he isn't still keeping Real Bardude between him and Dean, shaking a martini so hard he's practically making a slushie. "Is that some kind of stage name, like Cher or something? What's your real name?"
He was half rooting for Cas to answer seriously and bust every glass and bottle in the joint, and half expecting him to give that slight squint of I don't understand you insects and just repeat it, and even ignoring it would have made sense. Instead, he said something that made Dean feel like he'd been kicked in the face. "Castiel…Winchester."
Dean wheeled around, but oh crap, there they were. Hello, shots, and goodfuckingbye equilibrium. It sucked for the dignity, but Cas caught him, and oh, shit, that was beyond bizarre. Because his head was abruptly up against the angel's chest, and there wasn't a heartbeat. Just a hum, like being up close to the fridge, and the echo of words that were kind of swimming a little in the abrupt arrival of the alcohol. "Please. He's my younger brother. Just let me take him home, and I will compensate you for any damages."
The world, particularly including up and down and the positions of his legs in it, was making less and less sense, and somehow they were outside and across the street and how the hell did Cas know which one was his room because this was definitely his room by the time Cas let him go and he was able to literally get his feet under himself enough push away and jam a finger against the stupid noheartbeating chest. "Don't you ever fucking do that again!"
Cas sighed, flicking his fingers to lock the door behind them and looking neither surprised nor bothered by Dean's anger. "Dean, I —"
"No. You listen to me." He took a deep breath, and it was better now that he had a moment where he wasn't getting yanked around by Captain Tinglefingers. He'd adjusted to it, and okay, yeah, he was drunk, but drunk he could work with. Drunk he knew. Drunk he could navigate as he took a firm step forward, forcing Cas back. "You don't get to do that. You don't just get to…."
He cut off in a noise of frustration, running a hand through his hair as if he could yank the words from his brain. He was getting the look. The fucking blue-eyed Data look wanting answers that were so obvious they were hard. Like when a little kid says what's that and you say it's a goat and they say why, and you're left there like a jackass realizing that you have no fucking answer for why goat because it's goat, that's just what it's called since whoever names goats called it goat.
How to explain that you don't get to claim a little brother like it's an alias like FBI agent. How do you name and label and make sense of your crazy when it's getting harder to make sense of the floor or how holyshit far you've lost your tolerance after a year stone cold sober. How do you tell a fucking angel who pissed all over heaven for you that you've got stupid superstitions that you never even realized you had and it's pretty much sacred and probably the only thing you can call sacred in a life where you carry around holy water in a supersoaker and dig up graves three times a week and twice on Tuesday.
Because brothers doesn't mean same parents. It means unconditional fucking love when you want to beat them to death with their own size fifteen trip hazards left in the dark between the bed and the bathroom or when the honest to fucking God devil is looking at you through their eyes and you'd still turn what's left of the other cheek even if you had hope of fighting back. How do you explain that calling him family was already tearing your heart open and handing it over and when he spit on it for fucking Crowley or Raphael and all that bullshit it been that fucking gravel road with Sammy leaving for Stanford and Dad screaming after him into the dark all over again but worse, and -
-And he caught himself on the edge of a thing that swirled like the mouth of the Cage in his gut and clenched his jaw, pushing ahead another pace to put Cas' back to the wall. "Pick Novak or Smith or Columbo or whatever, but you don't get to throw that around and call me your brother like it just means…means…."
And the hand was on his shoulder again, and no personal space was his own fault this time and Jesus, they were too close to punch and almost close enough to kiss and he should have been able to feel breath on his face but Cas wasn't breathing even though his shoulder moved in a way that said his chest was moving. Because he didn't need the air, he just mimicked the process. Because he wasn't human. He was so much more and he didn't make sense but he made too much sense and he was too human and too real and this would all be so much easier if he'd just stayed a wavelengthnoiseidea whatever that broke windows and burned out eyes instead of digging in so much deeper into what Dean could never have deserve or understand.
He was holding on too hard, could see his fingers too deep in the tan canvas, and Cas should have shoved it off, should have told him to fuck off should have something but those eyes were locked on his and not letting go, and he'd said it so simply, so quietly that it should have been an insult but instead it wasn't. It was something that he could have sworn made his own heart stop beating and something that he couldn't have handled sober and definitely couldn't handle like this and he had to let go he had to get away he had to come up with a way to explain what he couldn't didn't shouldn't fucking universe would never allow…
And it took too long because he wanted too much. Always too much. But eventually he let go and managed to make there be something like an answer as he dropped to his knees by the bed to unzip the duffel bag and pray he'd remembered right about that half bottle of Knob Creek wrapped in the tshirts.
"Everything's not enough."