Disclaimer: Don't own Supernatural, Dean (although as much as I wish), Sammy or any other character presented in this fic!

Warnings: Slight cussing and a lot of shameless angst. Oh, and just a slight mention of Dean's questions on faith.

Part One

I

Dean Winchester was prone to loss. When he was twenty-six, his father disappeared. When he was twenty-four, his brother left for college. When he was four, his mother died.

But the eldest child of John and Mary Winchester never got used to the feelings that always resided within him after the loss or disappearance of a loved one. Feelings of resentment, anger, hurt and betrayal. Sometimes it consumed him, turning his resentment and anger into cold fury and his hurt and betrayal into deep feelings of treachery. But he would never cry in company, never show a weakness. He was headstrong, determined…almost to the point where he seemed more or less detached-unemotional. But only in company.

With each loss, with each disappearance, Dean felt a piece of him crumble away, lost forever. He still remembered how much pain and agony he felt as a four year old boy as his father sat him down, explained why his mummy wasn't there to tuck him in at night. There were no mentions of a heavenly angel sweeping the deceased woman to heaven, no mentions of God waiting to place a halo above her head. There was nothing, but a dead, resounding 'Mum is dead'.

Dean remembered his numb disbelief, his denial and then finally the heartbreaking acceptance. He remembered walking over to little Sammy's cot, staring down at his baby brother and then reaching down and gathering the small infant in his own small arms. But he still didn't cry, not even as he looked down into Sammy's sleeping face, noticing the way his hair flicked out slightly to the side as his mother's used to.

Then he placed the infant back into the cot and stepped back, crossing the hall to his own temporary bedroom and sitting down on his bed. He barely noticed as his father stepped in mere seconds later, knelt in front of him and began talking in soothing tones. He barely heard the words, barely contemplated the voice, barely considered the question he was being asked. He blocked his senses, suddenly unable to see, unable to hear, feel, smell. Unable to move his lips, force his tongue to move, unable to make any sound at all. And that's how it was for two weeks. That was his grieving period, his way of mourning. He never cried, not even when he was alone.

"Did you cry when mum died?" a fifteen year old Sam asked his older brother curiously.

Dean stared at his brother for what seemed like an eternity before snorting loudly. "No," he said, chuckling softly. "I left that to you."

Sam glared at Dean for some time before turning his back on him and muttering in an angry tone. Dean looking on after him, a pain he thought was lost, filling within him once again.

II

John Winchester used to drink heavily when his wife died, then again when his eldest turned fourteen. Maybe it was his son's sudden compulsive urge to get out, to put his own life in front of those that, in John's opinion, didn't even matter. His worry and concern for Dean was steadily showing its strain on the senior Winchester and close military friends often commented on his obvious fatigue. John's beliefs were that his son was beginning the process in becoming a man. After all, the cracked voice was a dead give away.

It also worried John when he noticed Dean's unexpected change in behaviour. John was the first to admit that the Winchester's were not a particularly sociable family, but Dean was just plain out isolating himself. In company he either stayed at the back of the room, trying to seem invisible, or else leaving all together. He seemed more anxious when it came to his family-his father and his brother. John noticed the way he would follow Sam with his eyes, nearly all the time, vowing to take the youngster to school, even if it meant missing the first few hours of his own schooling. When John, himself, left for a few days on a hunting trip he refused to take the boys along with, he would receive endless voice mails from Dean, demanding to know how the man was doing, if he was dead or just simply ignoring his children. When John had failed to return a message, he would expect to find a second one, hysterically insisting on his whereabouts.

When he thought back on it, John came to the conclusion that something must have happened to his eldest, something devastating. It wasn't just the change in becoming a man, but something else. It was with this new belief that John took Dean into his own room in their slightly claustrophobic apartment, and sat him down on the bed, glaring at him softly, but enough to intimidate the teen. Five minutes into John's lecture, Dean opened up, calmly informing his father that one of his best mates at school committed suicide only a month before Dean's fourteenth birthday. According to the school, Dean's friend had been suffering from Depression for such a long time and the pain had simply become intolerable.

John watched as his eldest son's composure held, giving the seemingly ever-standing impression that the boy would never fall, would never break into a million pieces, that he had no limits. John wondered what he had turned his son into… how his eldest was somehow void of all emotions. He willed for Dean to let a single tear slip, to see one ounce of emotion…but nothing.

"Do you remember Jason?" John asked his twenty year old son seated opposite him.

Dean glanced up, something clouding his eyes before they refocused on his father.

"Jason who?" he asked. "Did we save him from something?"

John struggled to keep his face emotionless. "No, we never saved him. He was your friend, remember? He killed himself?"

Dean cleared his throat and John swore he witnessed tear filled eyes, but when Dean shoved back his chair and stood up to face his father, tears that might have been, were gone.

"No, I don't remember a Jason," Dean denied angrily, kicking his chair in and storming past his father.

III

Dean remembered death after merciless death, something that had started from a very early age and had continued right up to his early twenties. Dean remembered witnessing the cold blooded murders and feeling the guilt that resided only seconds later. He was too late…he was always too late and every time he was too late, he would undoubtedly have to face his fuming father. His father that yelled and screamed at him…that, in his worst moments, scared Dean.

Dean would return to their motel room, turn his back on those surrounding him and wallow in self pity, his mind cruelly replaying the scene that he had just witnessed. He usually felt Sammy take a seat beside him, rest a hand on his back and say words that were incoherent to Dean's ears.

He ignored most, if not all, his brother's lies, his falsehoods. He didn't care much for 'It wasn't your fault, Dean' or 'You could have done nothing', because in reality, Dean knew that there was something he could have done. He could have fired the gun earlier, warned the people in advance, aggressively, he could have researched more. He could have been more like his father. There was always something he could have done. Instead he had been weak; he had let people die and no matter if they had killed the son-of-a-bitch that was responsible, Dean would always know that he was the real monster.

"Look, we're not gonna save everybody," Sam said to Dean as they headed back towards their car.

Dean nodded "I know," he said, but at the back of his mind, guilt had settled and refused to let go.

IV

Dean wanted desperately to block his ears, to tune out or to simply leave but something stopped him from bringing his hands to his ears and something was stopping him from returning to his cramped motel room. So, instead he sat at the round kitchen table, listening, against his better judgement, as his father and younger brother continued with their heated argument.

"It's only college," Sam stated, disbelief in his voice. "Only for a few years. You can't wait that long?"

"No, Sammy," John replied, a hint of danger in his tone. "I can't wait that long! And you think you'll want to return after you've learnt about acquittal or homicide or whatever the hell they'll teach you in that school?"

"I just want a life," Sam said, his voice rising slightly. "I want to study…I want to learn!"

"And I'm teaching you," John replied, his voice steady and assured.

"What you're teaching me is how to kill the legendary Mothman or when would be the best time to hunt a werewolf," Sam nearly shouted, clearly exasperated. "How am I supposed to word that on my résumé?"

"You should be grateful," John was clearly struggling to keep his voice level and Dean didn't envy Sam when John decided enough was enough. "After everything I've done for you!"

Sam's eyebrows shot up, hiding behind his unruly hair, making him look almost comical.

"Grateful for what?" Sam demanded. "For turning me into some kind of warrior so you could get your own back? I'm sorry dad, but you may have fucked up on one of your son's, but not me!"

Dean felt another piece of him break apart…another piece that he knew he would never reclaim. It was a piece that was owned by Sammy, that was just for him and now it was gone…broken into a million pieces. Dean wrapped his arms around his mid, grabbing onto the pain, refusing to let go, but refusing to let the tears spill. Nobody seemed to notice that suddenly the room had become too cramped for Dean; nobody seemed to notice that Dean was finding it difficult to breathe. Nobody seemed to notice that Dean was feeling a pain that made a few bullets to the chest seem like a couple of aspirin. It was a pain that was caused because of Dean's little brother.

"Leave Dean out of this," John's voice was a deadly whisper. His eyes were narrowed dangerously and the look he was giving Sam was quite frightening. "I have been nothing but a good father to you, Sam. What I do, I do for you and Dean."

Sam snorted and Dean raised a hand to his head, feeling a migraine coming on.

"What you do, you do for yourself," Sam objected. "You just want your revenge, that's all you want. And you want me and Dean as your sidekicks. You're a selfish bastard and you enjoy every minute of it."

Dean lowered his hand as an uncomfortable silence settled in and spared a glance at his father. John Winchester had never looked so scary in Dean's opinion and apparently his younger brother agreed.

"Sam," Dean stood up and grabbed Sam's arm tightly, steering him towards the bedroom. "That's enough."

But Sam was defiant and shook Dean off rather harder than was necessary. He strode back to his father and stared him straight in the eye.

"Sam…don't do this," Dean said, surprised as his voice came out husky and pleading. "Just let it go…please."

But Sam didn't answer…didn't even glance in his direction and Dean felt another piece break away.

"Dean, sit down." John's voice sounded hollow, a dead pan sound that seemed to reverberate around the small motel room.

Dean hesitated momentarily before finally complying. Taking a seat, he could barely bring his eyes up to meet the scene ready for him.

"You walk out that door, Sam; I don't want to see you walking back in."

Dean turned to face his father as John said that. He could hardly believe it, he didn't want to believe it.

"Dad," Dean heard his voice break, but still no tears. "Dad…don't…don't-"

"Dean, quiet!" John snapped and Dean closed his mouth instantly. John turned to face his youngest. "Am I clear?" he asked, his eyes flashing angrily.

Sam's face was taut, but he nodded. "Crystal."

"I just went to college. It was dad who said if I left I should stay gone," Sam said to Dean, his voice neither soft nor hard.

Dean avoided his gaze and instead gave off a small smirk. You didn't make it any easier for him, did you? He thought secretly.

V

Dean paced the study, trying to keep the anger welling inside him under control. He rubbed his bare arms as a chill set in, wishing he hadn't left his clothes upstairs and wishing he hadn't been so trusting, so open, and so overly sensitive at that moment to care.

"Cassie, you can't be serious?" Dean shouted, resisting the urge to slam his fist into the nearest wall, tremors encasing his body.

"No, Dean, you're the one that can't be serious!" the African-American cried out, unshed tears forming in her dark eyes. "You can't seriously look me in the eye and tell me that without laughing."

Dean closed his eyes for a fraction of a second before opening them once more. "It's not a joke Cassie," he said softly, begging her to believe him. "I'd never lie about this."

Cassie snorted. "You're crazy," she whispered, realisation creeping into her voice. "No, that can't be it. You want to break up with me."

Dean watched as the tears finally fell and he could hardly contain himself. Watching Cassie, the brilliant, strong, determined woman he had come to love, actually cry, show a weakness, vulnerability, made him want to do the same. But he didn't. Dean Winchester never cried in company.

"Cassie, I don't want to break up with you," Dean replied, taking a step toward her, but only to find that she would take a step backwards. "I'm telling you the truth. That is what I do for a living."

Cassie cocked an eyebrow, apparently unable to control the fountain of tears, but never sobbing. "So you hunt monsters for a living, right?" she asked cynically. "You grab your gun and chase after werewolves and vampires and ghosts?"

Dean grinned half-heartedly, the grin not completely reaching his eyes. "I know it sounds crazy, but…"

Cassie threw her hands up in the air. "No, Dean," she cried out, finally swiping at the tears. "No, it's not crazy at all. It's absolutely normal that you'd make up stories like that."

Dean took another step forward, only to have Cassie now turn her back on him. "No, Cassie, it's not like that…"

"I want you out of here, Dean," Cassie said in a monotonous, placid voice. "I want you out and I don't want to see you again."

Dean felt his body tense, he felt his blood freeze and his heart stop. He didn't waste another minute. Rushing forward, he grabbed Cassie by the shoulders and spun her around so that she was facing him.

"Cassie, I love you," he said, surprised as his voice came out pleading and broken. "I love you…don't do this."

Cassie struggled to free herself from Dean's grip. "You're the one that's doing this," she replied venomously. "Not me. Just leave, Dean. Take your clothes and go."

Dean let her go and stepped back, fighting the wave of emotions overwhelming him. "You're going to leave me too, huh?" he asked, hurt and pain evident.

"Take your stuff and go, Dean," Cassie managed before stalking out of the study.

Dean complied, because there was nothing left for him there.

"You really loved her, didn't you?" Sam asked as Dean drove them to whatever destination they were headed to.

"Loved who?" Dean asked, absentmindedly.

"Cassie," Sam snorted. "You loved her didn't you?"

Dean glanced at Sam sideways, inspecting him silently as though testing him. "Life is too short for love, Sammy," he replied nonchalantly.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sam queried, turning his whole body in his seat so that he was fully facing Dean.

Dean shrugged. "I'm just saying that in our line of work, we don't have time for all that stuff."

"That's not what I asked," Sam replied.

"Well that's how I answered," Dean snapped, pushing in a tape and pumping up Metallica loud.

VI

It happened while he was in New Orleans. It was one of the few jobs he had worked by himself. As much as he liked to boast that at twenty-six he had completed most hunts successfully alone, the truth was that he much preferred hunting with his father, the one stable person in his life.

John had insisted Dean work a job in New Orleans while he went on to California himself. Dean found it peculiar that John would send him away, but he never questioned the senior Winchester. He was given a direct order, he intended to see it through. And when he had finished in New Orleans, he called his father, only to get his voice message. A day passed and John still didn't reply to the missed call. Dean tried again, to no success. Dean rang a third time and a fourth time, feeling like that frantic little boy he thought he had lost a long time ago.

It was that same night that Dean received the message that changed everything. The message that saw Dean jump into his beloved car and head straight for California, straight for Stanford University. The same message that promised no return for Daddy Winchester.

Admittedly so, Dean was hurt that his father was gone. Why would his father leave him? He wasn't in so much danger that he couldn't phone Dean. Had he done something to deserve this? To deserve desertion and hurt? And although it hurt that his father's abandonment was so sudden and unexpected, it hurt even more when Sam had looked him in the eye and said no, rejected him for a second time, when Dean retold his story as they walked down the steps of Stanford University. And it hurt worse when Sam had yelled at him, demeaning their mother, taking away another piece of Dean.

Sam stopped him before he could take another step towards the bathroom "Hey Dean--What I said earlier, about mom and dad, I'm sorry."

Dean was surprised at this, but quickly recovered, holding up a grimy hand. "No chick flick moments."

"All right… jerk," Sam laughed.

"Bitch," Dean smirked, wishing he meant it and hating the way his chest stung when he continued off to the bathroom.

Part Two

I

John Winchester sighed and nursed his broken arm, staring down at his youngest, asleep under the moth-eaten duvet. The hard motel chair was slowly creating a back ache for him and he wondered how his eldest could just sit there, right beside him, without complaining. Averting his eyes from his youngest, he set them on Dean, watching him pour over maps and printouts at the kitchen table. The seventeen year old seemed exhilarated from the latest hunt, despite the unwelcome fact that it had nearly cost all three Winchester's their lives.

John knew he needed to speak with his son. He had been putting off this particular talk for thirteen years, but he now realised it had been his biggest mistake. He should have taken Mike's advice and spoken to Dean, had a father-son talk. John cussed at himself for leaving it this long…for all he knew, Dean was still mulling over it, all these years later.

"You alright there, kiddo?" he asked Dean, wincing as he stroked his arm rather hard.

Dean nodded absentmindedly. "Just trying to get a head start on the new hunt," he replied nonchalantly.

John cocked an eyebrow. "We just finished one, give it a rest for a while," he said. "We have plenty of time."

Dean shook his head vigorously. "I don't think we do," he responded. "There's a ring of homicides over in Missouri. No suspect because there's no evidence. No fingerprints, no loose hair, no nothing. And get this, the victims are all blonde, male or female and wear glasses."

Dean looked up triumphantly, pointing at the printouts with success. John hardly took notice of them, simply watching his son's exultant expression. He couldn't find any easy way to say what needed to be said, so he went for the next best thing, trying to build up to his desired conversation.

"You alright son?"

"Never better," Dean smirked, pointing again to the printouts. "If we leave tomorrow morning, we might get there by sundown." He pushed back his chair excitedly and stood up, taking a step towards the sleeping Sam. "In fact, if we leave now, we might get there by the morning."

John hid his proud grin and instead cleared his throat audibly. "Dean, sit please," he said, and Dean complied immediately.

"Don't wake your brother," John said, his hand leaving his broken arm to rub his sore back. "We need to talk, buddy."

Dean's brow furrowed and leaned forward on the kitchen table. "Did I do something wrong, dad?" he asked hurriedly. "Because I can't think of anything I did. I looked out for Sammy, like you told me to."

John held up a hand to halt his son's rambling. "You did nothing wrong Dean," he said, frowning as his broken arm gave an itch he knew he couldn't scratch. "I wanted to talk to you about…about mum."

John saw it the second the walls came up. Dean leaned back into his chair, averting his gaze. His face had grown detached and withdrawn and his eyes hardened.

"I just realised I never had a really good talk to you about her," John continued, not to be swayed by Dean's despondent behaviour. "And I should have, because I had one with Sam and I should have had one with you. For that I am sorry."

Dean persistently remained silent, looking over at a sleeping Sam. John felt himself growing impatient, suddenly reminded of his four year old son that had become a selective mute for such a long time.

"Dean, look at me," John commanded and slowly his eldest turned his head to face him. "I don't need any of this silent treatment, alright? I copped that out of you for two damn weeks; don't think I'm going to start that with you again."

Dean slowly nodded and John sighed. He hated to be so tough and demanding of the boy when he was trying to get him to open up. It was hard work raising two teenage boys.

"Your mother loved you, you know?" John said softly, watching Dean closely.

"Can we not do this?" Dean asked his voice suspiciously husky. "I need to have a shower."

"You're not at fault for any of this," John continued, staring earnestly into his son's eyes. "Mum's death was not your fault."

Dean looked away again, his eyes clouding over. "I know that, dad," he said, his voice sounding monotonous and dull. "I know it's not my fault."

John nodded. "As long as you know," he said.

Dean cleared his throat. "I'm gonna have a shower," he announced, averting his father gaze as he gathered clothes from beside his bed and made his way to the bathroom.

Five minutes later, John chose to ignore the loud sobs that blended in with the running of water.

II

Sam was already home when fourteen year old Dean entered the motel room. The eleven year old lay on the bed, dressed in his full school uniform, muddy school shoes still being worn as they lay at the foot of the bed. John sat at the kitchen table, cleaning knives and guns.

"How was school?" he asked his eldest son as Dean entered and closed the door with a resounding bang.

Dean shrugged, not quite sure he trusted himself to speak. Before he could be bombarded with more questions, he started off towards the bathroom, the only place of solitude in the small motel room.

Locking himself inside, Dean immediately felt his eyes burn as he made his way towards the mirror above the sink. He could already see the tears form. Blinking furiously, he tried to keep his mind occupied, but the thoughts and memories of that day spilled back mercilessly.

Dean remembered taking his seat in the crowded hall with all his classmates, some of which he hadn't even seen before. He sat by himself at the end of the back row, trying to make himself invisible. He felt unwelcome there. People were throwing him dirty looks as though he didn't belong, as though he were a piece of dirt. If Jason had shown up that day it would have been different. Dean's best friend always seemed to bring out the best in Dean, making known a confidence Dean only possessed on a hunt. But Jason was away and Dean would never forgive him for it. But as the principle made his way towards the microphone stationed at the front of the hall, Dean's eyes focused on him and his mind became alert.

The principle cleared his throat loudly, bringing the whole hall's attention onto him. "Yesterday afternoon," he started, running an aged hand through his white, flyaway hair, "a student died. We know he will be missed by all who knew him."

Murmurs filled the hall and a frenzy had erupted. People started speculating, theorizing who it could be. Who was away today? Who seemed off yesterday at school? But the principle had cleared his throat once more and heads turned in his direction.

"Some may know him and some may have just seen him around, but we're all going to miss him in our own way," the principle shifted awkwardly, obviously trying to find a way to tell the congregated students who exactly had died. "Jason Blair killed himself last night; he had been suffering from depression for a very long time."

Dean felt the world spin around him and he sunk a few inches down in his seat, unaware that people had now turned to look at him, their eyes wide and accusing. Dean felt his breath catch in his throat and was finding it increasingly hard to breathe, but he had no time to think much of it, because the principle continued to speak and Dean forced himself to concentrate, to learn more of this incident.

"It was a tragic thing to happen, but we must stay strong and turn our minds towards the good that has come from this. Jason is in God's house now."

Dean found himself in the cramped motel bathroom, looking at his reflection in the mirror once more. He remembered all that, he remembered the speech and he remembered the accusing stares he had received, as if he were to blame for Jason's death. And he remembered the principle's speech. God's house? God?

Dean gave off a humourless laugh despite the hollow look in his eyes and the many tears streaming down his face. There was no God, how could there be when so many people had been wasted.

Dean could do no more than sink to his knees as the tremors encased him and the sobs became too painful.

III

Layla walked right through the motel door and Dean stared right after her, feeling his humanity go with her. He had no dignity anymore, no civil air about him, he was less than human…he was a monster. That's what he had succumbed to, wasn't it? He had sacrificed a person to save himself; he knew there was no justice to that. He had been selfish and arrogant and downright pigheaded for himself and only for himself. Because he was a coward.

He knew the moment that he met her that she was worth more than him, and it hit a clear home-run when Layla's mother confronted him. So then, knowing this, why would he do something so selfish, so self absorbed?

Dean went to the closed door and locked it, not ready for Sam's return just yet. When he checked and re-checked that the door was securely locked, he slammed his body against the door and slid down, unable to stop the flow of tears, but he never let the sobs approach, because tears were one thing, but uncontrolled sobbing was a totally different story, one he wouldn't like to tell.

IV

Dean sat silently at the kitchen table as Sam stalked back into his motel bedroom that he shared with Dean. He stubbornly avoided his father's fuming gaze, afraid of what he might see there. A few awkward moments later, hurried footsteps could be heard and Sam reappeared, shouldering a duffel bag.

"I'm leaving," he announced, his eyes moving from his father, who stood by the kitchen sink, to his detached brother, who had his back turned away from Sam.

"Sammy, I meant what I said," John said in a huff voice. "You leave us, don't ever think of returning."

"I don't intend to," Sam replied, his voice low and dangerous as though he were testing his father.

"Then leave now," John said sternly, turning his back on Sam and moving towards the only bed in the room, the one in which he slept in.

"I want to talk to my brother first," Sam responded, repositioning his duffel bag on his shoulder.

"Make it quick," John answered, flopping down on his bed. "Dean and I have a big day tomorrow."

Sam sighed and moved towards Dean, laying a hand on his shoulder, but Dean didn't move, didn't even make an intention to reply to the gesture. Sam moved to take a seat opposite Dean, but found that once he had a clear view of his brother Dean had left his seat and had walked over to the kitchen counter, his back facing Sam. It troubled Sam that he was leaning heavily against the counter as though he couldn't stand upright by himself.

"Dean," Sam sighed, moving towards his brother again. "I have to…"

"No," Dean's voice was cracked and broken and Sam found himself suddenly frightened. "I don't want to hear it. I can't hear it."

Sam took a step back, as though wounded, only too aware that his father had a stern gaze on him and a concerned one on Dean.

"Dean, it's not forever," Sam reasoned. "I will see you again. You're my brother."

Dean sighed, but to Sam it sounded too much like a sob. "You want to leave," Dean said, sounding furious beyond anything Sam had heard come out of his brother's mouth. "Then you leave."

"Dean-"

"I said leave!" Dean shouted angrily and Sam definitely heard a sob in his voice, but knew he was no good to Dean now. He might never be again.

"Leave Sammy."

John's voice rang loud and clear through the motel room and Sam knew he had worn out his welcome. He knew it when John stalked to the motel room door and held it open for Sam. He knew it when Dean refused to open his mouth to speak to him and he knew it when the silence prolonged.

Sam walked out of that motel room, not once looking back at the life he had lead for eighteen years.

John stood at the motel door for a moment, watching as his youngest child's back faded into the dark shadows of the night. He knew a chapter had closed for his youngest son, and he knew there was nothing he could say or do to reopen that chapter. So he turned to his eldest. His broken eldest.

Dean was leaning heavily against the counter, his outstretched arms, holding him up were trembling violently and John feared that his son might lose his stature and tumble. Rushing forwards, he grabbed Dean by his right arm and held on.

"Dean?" he tried.

Dean pushed John away and turned to face his father, his eyes watering. "You shouldn't have said that!" Dean snapped, stepping back from his father as though he were diseased. "You shouldn't have pushed him away!"

"Dean, he asked to leave…he turned his back on this family," John replied, too calm for comfort.

Dean stumbled further backwards, turning his back on his father and making his unsteady way towards his small bedroom he shared with Sam. Stumbling in, he shut the door and collapsed on Sam's bed, burying his face in the pillow, fresh with Sam's scent.

V

Dean shrugged on his shirt, only too aware that Cassie stood in the doorway, watching him soundlessly. When he had finished dressing, he picked up his wallet and pocketed it. Not glancing up, he began to shuffle his way out of the room. Cassie stepped out of his way quickly, as though he was contaminated, and she too averted his gaze.

Out of the corner of his eye, just before he stepped out the doorway, Dean saw Cassie open her mouth slightly as though intending to speak. Not trusting himself any further with her, he quickly hurried out, running down the stairway as though on fire.

His mouth firmly shut tight, Dean kept his head low, pretending not to notice how his breath was suddenly shallow and how his eyes stung. Rushing past doorways and shadows, he reached the front door, pushed it open and stepped out into the skin biting cold air. Lifting his head for the first time, seeing his Impala in the distance, safe with the knowledge that the black beauty would be the only stable thing in his life, he pretended the tears were a result of the cold, not for anything else. Never for anything else.

VI

Dean's smirk instantly vanished as he turned his back from Sam and entered the bathroom, ignoring the trail of mud and dirt he was leaving behind. He entered the bathroom, wiping the mud and slosh from his face and splattering it unceremoniously over the walls and tiles.

Locking the bathroom door after him, he travelled over to the bathroom sink and stared at his reflection in the mirror suspended over it. It really didn't surprise him that his hair now resembled that of the boy in those 'Harry Potter' movies. He snorted as he rubbed his face with the intention of scouring it clean, only to find that the mud simply sank deeper into his skin.

He closed his eyes with difficulty; the mud hardened over his eyelids, and saw a scene flash through his closed lids. The same scene that he had just played out with Sam a mere hour ago.

Dean turned away from his reflection and turned towards the shower, turning on the water and stripping down to nothing. He tested the water's temperature with his hand before stepping in and closing the door after him. Looking down, he could see a trail of muddy water circle towards the drain and felt himself come clean again. But only physically. Mentally, he felt his dirtiest yet. He felt dirty, wrong and diseased. He felt all the feelings he kept with him for a long time. He felt hurt, sorrow, grief, desperation and loneliness and he didn't know which one felt worse.

His mind seemed to be going a hundred miles an hour and he tried to distinguish the positive from the negative, only to find out that there were no positives. There seemed to be a lot of wishes in the mix.

He wished his father would come back. He wished Sam wouldn't look at him like he was contaminated. He wished he wasn't so lonely. All the wishes added up to nothing and as Dean sunk to his knees on the shower floor, the tears mixing with the water, he knew that he would never be truly whole. Never be truly happy and as much as he would like to pretend, he wasn't that tough and emotionless.

Little did Dean Winchester know, but he wasn't the only one to cry. Little did Dean Winchester know, but he was never alone when he did.

oOoOoOo

Fin