My put upon smile

Wit rediscovered, soul weeping

I find myself briefly

It's scratched on the wall in messy red ink, written like it doesn't belong there and Dean knows it doesn't. A urinal wall, smack bang in the middle of 'call yadda yadda for a good time' and 'Brendan Salterns sucks dick', the poem stands out. It's cheap, cheesy, something Sam would have written when he was sixteen in that book he claimed wasn't a journal but read like just that.

She's like winter and rain . . . bit harsh ain't it, Sammy?


Who is this chick who makes your heart –

Something Sam might still write about on his laptop, in that special folder that neither of them mention, because Dean's old enough to know better, and there had been things in there that were painful and private.

Jess washed her hair with shampoo that smelt like strawberries. Dean wonders why I don't eat them anymore. Freak allergy? Freak?

Freak, freak, freak, Dean's mind added, and they both were.

He reads it again, spots the arrows pointed towards with the label 'emo fag', and reads It one more time after his fly is done up and he's squinting because the light is too dim.

"What are you doing in there, c'mon Dean!" Sam bangs on the door, irritable and whiny. It's two am and freezing, he's earned the right to be that way, and Dean glances at the wall one more time, considers adding the word bitch at the end of it, then walks outside.

"Was washing my hands. Thoroughly," he says, his hands still dirty. Sam wrinkles his nose, and its freezing.

- - -

Dean burns. His skin leaves him, flayed off in pieces and he screams.

Sam, son of a bitch, it hurts, oh god, oh god, help me, help me

He wakes, cold sweat and panting, and Sam grips his forearms tight and smiles.

"It's okay," he says. "It's okay."


"I'm here, Dean." Sam turns Dean's skin warm again, too warm and he tingles. Hands roam his stomach, turn and pull him back, and Sam holds him pressed close and breathes. "It's okay."

It's not. Dean feels wrong, uneasy, he's not meant to feel like this. He's not meant to feel protected. Sam presses a kiss into his hair, and Dean weakens.

He relaxes, waits till Sam's breathing evens out and closes his eyes again.

Dean burns.

- - -

"-and it's like this," Dean babbles with his hands clutched at his sides. "You know, it just isn't supposed to go down that way."

His eyes won't – can't – leave the shirt discarded on the empty bed. The blood, soaked into the material.

into his hands, his skin, god

"Do you hear me?" he asks, and Castiel listens. He touches Sam on the forehead one last time, his own crinkled with what looks like worry, but can't be. Angels don't worry, Dean knows this. They're calm, warriors, blank even when Sam is bleeding to death on the floor in front of them, and Dean is pleading. Heartless bastards, that's all they are.

"He will be fine," Castiel says. He stands, and walks over to Dean.

"You saved his life," Dean says blandly.


"Why? I thought . . ." Dean glances over to his brother., The sheets rise and fall with every breath. "I thought you guys wanted him dead."

He expects something – God works in mysterious ways, Dean – an answer at least.

Castiel glances down at Dean's hands, watches them flex and he sighs. "Your hands, Dean. Give me your hands."

Dean stares. His hands flex into fists and Castiel grabs both of them gentle, waist for them to loosen and leads Dean into the bathroom.

Castiel makes light work of Dean's hands, washing them with warm water and soft touches. Dean pulls away and takes over, scrubbing till the red turns to pink then back into red again.


"I don't think you're supposed to touch me like that." Dean wipes his hands on the dirty towel and Castiel turns the faucet off.

"Says who?" he asks. He's looking curious, and Dean hates when he does that.

It's not faked though, it's real and childlike, and Dean looks away. "I don't know."

Castiel nods. "Your clothes are covered in blood."

"Yeah." Dean glances down at himself. Blood on his shirt, his pants, not on his hands anymore, but they're pink and raw, and he's sure his shoes are caked with blood -

like the ground, Sam's stomach, blood everywhere and Sam can't even see him, he's gasping so badly

Dean blinks. "Yeah," he repeats, and starts towards the other room. "I should change." He kicks his suitcase open, pulls out a pair of jeans and a reasonably clean shirt, and shucks off what he's wearing. There's a bin down the street with his name on it, and he'll wait until Sam's well enough to leave town before dumping them.

Castiel watches. Quiet, standing by Sam's bedside, he watches Dean change. "I never wanted Sam to die," he says.

"Coulda fooled me," Dean mutters as he zips himself up. "Stop him or we will. Sounds like a threat to me."

"I believe in redemption, Dean. I believe that Sam can be saved, I pray for it." Castiel gives Sam one last look, they both watch the sheets go up and down, and then he steps towards Dean. "I have faith that you'll save him, Dean. I pray that you will."


"And I pray for you."

They stare at each other, long and uncomfortable. Dean looks away first, hating the way Castiel's eyes bore into his. He buttons up his shirt, small cough coming from his throat, and when he looks up, Castiel is gone.

- - -

Dean dreams. He doesn't burn, and it's the first time in months. He dreams of blood, of Sam, and when he doesn't wake in a cold sweat, his dreams turn to Castiel.

It's simple, boring even, but there isn't hellfire and pain, just a breeze on the back of his neck and stone walls; the oldest of churches. The priest smiles at him, and gestures towards the holy water.

Dean hesitates and the priests' eyes twinkle. "It won't kill you." He's not so sure. But Dean dips his fingers in the water, and crosses himself like Pastor Jim taught him all those years ago. The priest nods at him. "It's in the past, you know. You've found it, Dean."

In the dream, it makes perfect sense. Dean nods, smiles, and thanks the priest as he brushes past. He finds a pew, near the back and glances over at the confessionals.

Forgive me father, but I have no idea what the hell I'm doing in here . . .

Dean stays put. An arm brushes his, and he doesn't have to look over to see its Castiel. He looks anyway. Takes in the clasped hands, the bowed head, the closed eyes and listens to the murmurings. Castiel is praying. Dean can't make out the words, knows they're not in English anyway, and he knows that even if they were in English, he still wouldn't be able to figure them out. He closes his eyes as well and lets the words wash over him.


Castiel flinches. Dean doesn't, just looks behind him and sees Sam. The priest smiles to him and gestures towards the holy water.

Sam hesitates. The priest says, "It won't kill you."

Please. please, Sammy, c'mon, just touch it, c'mon

Sam dips his fingers in the water, and pulls his hand back like it burns. The priest cocks his head, "Or maybe it will," and Dean turns away. He looks at Castiel, still praying, and bows his head and listens to the words.

- - -

Dean finds himself in bed with Sam that night, and not for the first time. He keeps his hand on Sam's chest, feels his heart beat and checks his fingertips. They're normal, pink, bigger than his own, and Dean keeps his head on the pillow and doesn't sleep. Sam snores quietly, still recovering from his injuries – what, you couldn't heal him all the way, Cas? – and Dean ignores the eyes on them, coming from the other side of the room, and tries to recall the words Castiel had said on the pew.

He feels calm. When Sam wakes up, they drink coffee together, Sam's weak and laced with aspirin, and Dean smiles bright at him, and asks Sam if he knows a guy named Brendan Salterns. Sam says no, and asks if he's okay.

Dean answers, "Oh, I'm just super."