Since the episode with the vampires, they have been hunting non stop, so they decided to take a short break and headed to Bobby's. As they arrived, the hunter was standing in the front porch waiting for them.
"Hey, Bobby." Dean said, giving a small smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"Hey, son." Bobby said, eyeing him worriedly.
"Hey, Bobby." Sam greeted the hunter.
"Hey, son." Bobby said, throwing a questioning look at Sam and then guiding the boys to the living room.
After the three hunters relaxed a little, talking and drinking some beer, Dean excused himself, claiming he was going to take a shower. Sam started to leave too, when Bobby interrupted him.
"Hey, Sam, can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Sure, Bobby, go ahead."
"I'm not gonna beat around the bush here, so I'm gonna be straight with you: what happened to your brother?"
"What do you mean?" Sam asked, with a puzzled look.
"What do I mean? You must be kidding." The hunter says, disbelievingly.
"There's nothing wrong with him, Bobby, we've been hunting a lot, but that's all, nothing happened."
"Are you blind, boy? Do you even live with your brother? The kid is like a walking empty doll, everything works, but there is no life behind it. So I'm asking you again, Sam, what happened?"
"I honestly don't know, Bobby." I actually haven't noticed anything. Did I miss something? Sam thought to himself.
"Well, then go and find out." Bobby said decisively.
Meanwhile, Dean was standing in front of the mirror before entering the shower stall. Dead eyes stared back at him. He decided to accept who he had become, but that left him feeling hollow, specially since he realized he wasn't living with Sammy anymore, he was living with someone that looked down on him, he was living with a stranger, Sammy, his little brother, had left him again, he was utterly alone. Suddenly the walls began to bleed, the smell of sulfur permeating the air. He stepped under the shower and started the water, but it was blood that came down. It was okay, he didn't mind anymore, nothing new, it's not like he wasn't used to blood, so he started to shower, hot blood covering him until he blinked and the blood was gone, replaced by water.
After speaking with Bobby, Sam walked up the stairs to talk to his brother. Reaching the room, he wasn't prepared for what he saw. His brother had just got out the shower, so he was already in his jeans but still shirtless, rummaging trough the first aid kit. His torso was covered with various kinds of wounds, in different stages of healing, most of the recent ones with stitches, the skin practically a mixture of black and blue, his arms were not much better, and his left forearm had a leather protector. Dean, seeing Sam enter, made a grunt noise of acknowledgment and resumed his actions.
"What the Hell happened, Dean?" Sam asked, truly shocked.
"What do you mean?", Dean said, as he sat down on the bed, pulled the hem on his right leg, revealing a grotesque sight: the ankle was bent a little awkwardly and it was double its size. Then he just grabbed it and, with a rough and quick motion, straightened it, the movement causing a sickening sound, while Dean didn't even flinch.
"Oh my God." Sam almost gagged, Dean continuing with his actions, wrapping the ankle tightly, straightening his jeans, standing up and going back to the first aid kit.
"What do you want, Sam?" Dean said in a flat tone.
"Dean, when did you get those wounds? Why the Hell didn't you tell me you were hurt?! You could've been killed hunting while off your game!" Sam said, angrily.
"I don't know if you have noticed, but wounds tend to happen in hunts. And I didn't hide them from you, they happened and I took care of them, it's not like I have to give you a report. About hunting while being off my game, I always make sure I can manage it and, if I can't, then I tell you." Or at least I try, was kept unsaid. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna compromise a hunt." I'm not gonna get in your way, Dean thought.
Hearing his brother say that if he needed help with a wound, he would tell him, Sam's mind went to the vampire hunt in Liberty.
"Why didn't you tell me you were hurt?" Sam, asked angrily, as Dean woke up and looked at him. After all, he had been waiting for his brother to wake up since Castiel had left the motel room.
"Hello to you too, Sam." Dean said, unfazed, and propping himself up in a sitting position, grimacing a little.
"Oh, no, we're gonna talk about this, because I enter this room and what greets me? Cas, by your side, while you were out like a light. Then he just vanished without telling me a thing, leaving me here with you, dead to the world and with a huge bandage on the gut. So enlighten me: why didn't you tell me you. were. hurt?" Sam says, exasperated.
"You know what, Sam? You wanna hear it so much, then here it is. The vamp you were fighting was hiding a knife and stabbed me before I killed it. It was nothing serious. So we got here, I properly cleaned and stitched the cut, took some antibiotic to be safe and went to bed. But the damn knife was rusty and filthy, so I woke up sometime later with a fever anyway. I was gonna tell you, but you weren't here, so I took some Tylenol and went back to sleep. Woke up again some time later, the fever was clearly worst, but surprise: you were still not here. I tried calling you, several times might I add, but you were probably too busy, because not only you didn't pick up any of my calls, but you didn't call me back either. The Tylenol was not working, the fever kept getting worse and there was nothing I could do. But, thankfully, Cas was able to spare some of his precious time to come here and help me. So there it is. I tried to tell you, but you weren't here." Dean said, walls higher than the Everest.
Sam was staring at his brother with a deer caught in headlights look. 'You were not here.' had been Cas' words. 'The vampire was gonna stab me, that was why he shove me out of the way', Sam thought. His mouth was dry, no words coming out.
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Dean said, as he slowly made his way to the bathroom.
"It's not just about the hunt." Sam said, guilt raising its ugly head. "You h.. stop, stop, you're gonna pop a stitch!" Sam said as Dean was bending down, rummaging trough his duffel bag looking for a t-shirt. Dean ignored Sam, and resumed his search until he reached his goal, grabbing a military green one. In the end, all the movement made a stitch pop, two actually.
"Huh" Dean said as he looked at his side, where now a small trail of blood could be seen. At that, he went to the first aid kit again, cleaned the wound well and stitched it back up, putting a bandage on top to secure it, and putting his t-shirt on."There, problem solved." He said emotionless, as he walked to the bed.
"For God's sake, stop walking so much, no, scratch that, how are you even walking on that leg? Your ankle is a mess, you have to give it a rest." Ignoring him once again, Dean just put his boots on and walked to the door, pausing to answer.
"My ankle is properly taken care of, I wrapped it tight, so walking on it won't make it heal wrong. I'm not an amateur, Sam, I know how an untreated injury can screw up a hunt, as I said, I'm not gonna let that happen." Dean said with a blank expression.
"So what? Instead of trying to avoid being hurt, you are picking the wounds you can treat?" Sam said, exasperated.
"I'm not picking anything. As I said, wounds happen in a hunt."
"Not that many, not unless you are being reckless."
"Being reckless is doing something without thinking about the consequences, I think if the consequence is worth the risk and then I make my decisions." Dean said sternly.
"Well, then the problem here is your standards about the risks you are willing to take."
"You know what, Sam? I'm not gonna talk to you about standards." If there's someone with messed up standards here, it's not me, Dean thought to himself.
With that, the older brother walked out of the room, leaving Sam standing there, looking lost, with a mixture of anger, disbelief and worry.
Dean went out of the house to grab some air when Castiel appeared right in front of him.
"Holy crap! Warn a guy, Cas!" Dean said holding his chest.
"I'm sorry, Dean, it was not my intention so startle you." Castiel said without moving.
"Hmm, Cas? What have we talked about personal space?"
"Oh, right, I apologize." Castiel said stepping back.
"It's a good thing you came, I had to talk to you. I went after some demons, low rank ones, didn't even have to press too much for answers, and one let scape there's something going on in Danvers, that maybe I could find some answers there."
"Danvers? This is actually why I came here for. There is a seal in that city and we think there will be demons trying to break it. I am going to tell you more once we are inside so your brother and your friend Bobby can hear it too." Castiel paused for a moment. "Dean, I have to tell you something. I was told not to, but I think you deserve to know."
"What it is, Cas? You're making me kind of nervous."
"I would rather tell you in a more secluded place". Castiel said as he looked in the direction of a window in Bobby's house.
As Dean followed Castiel's gaze, he spotted Sam looking at them. "Ok. I'll need a low profile place to interrogate the demon once we are in Danvers, so we can talk there."
"Very well. I will make sure to provide you a warded place where you can work in safety."
"Ok. Now let's go inside so you can fill us in the details."
Once inside, Castiel started telling the hunters what he knew.
"Before being called Danvers, the place was known as Salem Village, where Martha Cory, a powerful witch, was executed. Someone is trying to bring her back. Dean, your duty here is to stop that, as Martha Cory is the seal. If you need anything, call me when you get to Danvers. I will leave you to it now."
"Bye, Cas." Dean said and, with that, the angel was gone.
After some research, Sam gathered some information and spoke up.
"Martha Cory was a woman known for being a dedicated member of the church and a respectable person in the community. She was against the Salem witch trials that were happening at the time, claiming there were not such a thing as witches, therefore the trials were a fraud. People saw her public behavior against the trials with bad eyes. When she went against her husband going to one of the examinations in the trials, the suspicions grew and, finally, when a girl claimed Martha bewitched her and turned her blind, she was accused of witchcraft. After that she was found guilty and sentenced to death, being hanged on September 22 1962, in the last of the hangings of the Salem Witch Trials." Sam paused a little and then continued. "And it's unknown what happened to her remains, great."
"Wow, that witch was a cunning one. Infiltrating the church to try to convince people to stop the trials. Too bad for her it didn't pay off at the end. Well, at least now we know we have a few days left to get there and find where the ritual is going to take place. I'll go get my things, meet you in ten?" Dean said.
After that, the brothers headed to Danvers. As soon as they got there, they checked in a motel and started to research about Martha Cory. Sam went to the library and Dean to town to see if he could talk to some locals. As he got to the library, Sam got a call from Ruby.
"Hey, Sam. I heard you're in Danvers."
"How did you know, Ruby? We just got here."
"Well, if there's a seal, there's a Winchester."
"You're right about that." Sam said chuckling.
"So, where are you staying at?"
"The Knights Inn, by the Interstate."
"I know where it is. So I'll meet you there by midnight."
As the day went on and the boys didn't find anything useful, they went back to the motel and, later, went to sleep. Sam was laying down just waiting for his brother to fall asleep and, as he heard the soft and even breaths, he got up and went to meet Ruby. But the thing is that Dean, for his part, was already expecting that, so he waited for a while after Sam got out of the motel room, so he could go out and try to find the demon he was looking for. Getting at least a name - the demon apparently went for the name Chad, how lame - Dean came back before Sam, and went back to sleep. Morning came, both brothers acted like nothing had happened. Sam meeting with Ruby while believing Dean was unaware of his activities and Dean taking the opportunity to go after answers about what really was going on with Heaven and Hell regarding the apocalypse.
They finally found where the witch was buried and Bobby called with an incantation that probably would work to stop the ritual, which would happen tomorrow, September 22. They got everything they needed and prepared for the next day. They got there in time, three witches had started the ritual already, but with the incantation Bobby provided, they were able to stop them and, therefore, the seal was not broken. With the witches now dead, they called Castiel to inform him.
Back at the motel, after going to sleep, the events of two nights before repeated themselves. But, this time, Dean finally got a hold of Chad. He then proceeded to call Castiel, who provided a place where the interrogation could take place. There, the hunter and the angel talked before Dean started his job.
"So, Cas, you said you had to talk to me about something serious."
"Yes, Dean. Before I start, I would like for you to understand that none of it was your fault, you could not know what would happen."
"What are you talking about, Cas?"
"There is a prophecy regarding the apocalypse. It says 'And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks, so shall it break'. This prophecy came true. You are the righteous man, Dean."
"I, I broke the first seal?" Dean says, voice quivering.
"I am sorry, but yes." the angel said with a sad look in his eyes.
"So I'm the responsible one for all of this? My weakness damned the world." Dean says, feeling his soul shattering once more. "Why did Heaven rescue me, Cas? I should have been left to rot in Hell, that's what I deserved." Dean says with sorrow, regret and self-hatred.
"Dean, you are not weak. On the contrary, you are a strong man for having lasted so long in Alastair's hands." Castiel says earnestly. "Heaven rescued you because, although we were late to prevent you from breaking the first seal, the prophecy does not end there, it goes saying 'The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it'. Which means is your fate to stop the apocalypse, Dean."
"This is too big, Cas, I don't believe I can do this. I, I'm not strong enough." Dean says dejectedly, slumping his shoulders.
"You will not be alone, my friend. You can count on me to help you along this path." Castiel says, reassuringly.
"I ca…" Dean suddenly stops. I don't get to quit. I don't deserve to. It doesn't matter what I want or what I think I can or can't do. If I made this fucking mess, then is my responsibility to do everything within my power to make it right, even if I fail, even if I go down, then I'll go down fighting. "You know what, Cas, thank you for telling me this, I had to know, because the truth is I did this, it's my fault, so it's my damn responsibility to at least try my damn hardest to fix it." If he fights or not, it's just not his call to make anymore."You're a good friend, thank you for having my back." He says in a serious and honest tone.
"You are very welcomed, Dean."
"Well, now I have a job to do." The hunter says, a grave and dark tone coloring his voice.
"Very well. Call me when you finish it. I will clean this place then."
"Ok. See you later, Cas.". And, with that, Castiel was gone.
Dean started walking trough the house and opened a door at the end of a corridor. There, Chad, the demon, was tied to a rack, where a huge and intricate devil's trap was laid. The hunter stepped into the room and went to a cart full of tools.
"Let's begin." Dean says as he picks up a razor, voice cold and devoid of emotions.