Author's note: This is going to be a short one (3-4 chapters) and I hope you enjoy this. I kinda feel the recent episode was very unDean like and was disappointed. Since I had this idea, I wanted to redeem Dean just a bit to the man we love watching each week. It may be just me, but I hope you like it.
The sun ascended, cramming the sky with a stunning myriad of colored light. The first ray warmed Dean's pale face as he stared blankly out the windshield at the sleepy back roads of Nebraska. Even the rhythm of the road droned to a low hum, matching the sounds of breath forcing in and out of his lungs. The world dwelled in cherished, loyal silence. Somehow, in this time, he could shut out the voices inside his head where shouts, screams, and agony didn't exist.
Once when Sam caught him staring out at the open road, he told his little brother he was thinking, but he wasn't. He was doing nothing- just blissful numb nothing. A time when he blocked out all sounds, smell, sensations. On more than one occasion, he had driven several hundred miles with no recollection at all.
He'd come to count on this moment. Maybe it was a reassurance he was alive and maybe deserved to be that way. Then like always the thoughts would creep. It had been several days since he told Sam about the monster he had become in Hell. Sam wasn't shocked, demanding, or even sympathy. The news had come over his little brother in what Dean would call numbness.
Then there were so many questions. Why did they bring me back? How can I help anyone when I can't help myself? What have I become? The things I've done. The horrors in my head. The grief was suffocating him, which he found a bit ridiculous to mourn for the souls he punished with such glee down in the pit. Sorrow was a constant companion that was all too familiar. Since the age of four, he had seen it in varying degrees, witnessing too many losses, personal and otherwise, with the tragedy he saw every day.
He come to expect that nagging emotion to dwell in some dark corner inside him, but he always could ignore it and focus hard on the job at hand. That's what he had to do now. So here he was, on the road with Sam at his side, driving hard and fast to the next case- the next town- with the next hope of stopping the madness inside him. When he was on the hunt, he could push it down and almost make himself believe he was on the road to redemption. Yet, he couldn't imagine anything that could be measure for measure. Guilt waited for him, stalked him. When it came back, it would kick him square in the gut, leaving him breathless. Worse, there wasn't a damn thing he could do to keep it away. Somehow, he kinda felt he deserved it.
Barely managing on a daily basis to shower, dress, eat, and put on a good face for Sam. Going through motions that were meaningless, Dean often caught Sam giving him a suspicious look, but his little brother didn't ask too much. He was thankful for that. When Sam pried, he would accept an "I'm fine" response and leave the deep scarring scab alone.
A loud groan from Sam brought him back to today and he shook his head to blur the dark thoughts once more.
Hey. What time is it?" He spoke in a yawn making the words sound more like disjointed grunts.
"Yeah. Just hungry."
Sam indentified the quaver of avoidance in Dean's words, knowing well his brother's vulnerabilities and pain. "Considering you didn't eat dinner last night, I'd say that was a good idea."
"I didn't?" He thought he was so careful to force himself to eat enough to quell any suspicious Sam had.
"You do it a lot since-" Sam stuttered.
"Sorry." He hushed the word as if it pained him.
"I really don't know. Can we leave it at that?"
"Only if you eat breakfast."
Hours later at the Elk Motor Court...
Hours later at the Elk Motor Court...
"Uh. I'll just surprise you." Sam frowned, but forced his voice to jovial tones. "Course that truck stop food may end up surprising us later in more ways than we want."
"I'll be back and after a days rest, we'll hit the road again."
"Nah, we'll crack on after grub."
"I rented this place and for damn sure we're going to use it. Man, I'm spent- wiped- Evander Holyfield could use me as a punching bag and I wouldn't feel it. I need a good night's sleep. If you don't than I'll pick up some lame ass horror flick for you while I'm out."
"Sounds good, Sam." A strange wheezing sigh heaved at Dean's shoulder.
With the slightest of head nods, Sam coughed. "Get some rest and I'll be back soon." As he shut the door, Sam wondered how he could make the pain of Dean's time in Hell go away. It would almost be worth giving into demon blood just to wash Dean whole again.
"Just go, Sam." Dean ordered. "I won't break while you're gone." That seemed to appease Sam enough since he heard the long strides of his brother moving away from the door. "I know you mean well."
He knew Sam couldn't understand. Dean's job was to save, but he'd ripped souls apart. How could you make that all right! He'd committed the worst sin of all! He'd become like the demons. Growing so numb, he doubted if he could tell who he tortured down there. What if they were poor slobs like him? Had he ripped apart someone who sold to save a kid with cancer- a person with no other sin but loving too hard?
Forcing in another breath, his head hung lower, tracing the design of the threadbare carpet with his foot, digging at one wear spot. Then just out of the corner of his eye, he noticed it. A red covered book peeked a single corner from under the nightstand leg.
He didn't know why his fingers reached for it as if drawn to it. Without forethought, the well-worn bible found a way to his grasping hand. Banging it against one open palm, he muttered, shaking his head until a couple of words came out clear. "Gideon's. Swear they are everywhere."
He'd see the book a thousand times before in a thousand hotels, but this one was ancient in motel standards. More times than not, he'd seen bright shiny new ones in a night stand drawer. Aware of how many Bibles disappeared from hotels, he wondered how this one managed to stay so long. Moreover, he felt kindred with the tea colored edges of the pages was beyond his comprehension. His fingers stuck to one side, just briefly, in what appeared to be strawberry jam. When he opened a brightly single crayon- blue- splattered over the pages. Yet through the waxy art attempt, he skimmed over a still readable passage.
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. "
"Yeah right!" He tossed the book aside. "Nothing could ever make me clean. Nothing! I don't deserve this. Not after what I've done. Nothing good came out of Hell!"
"Does that include you?" Castiel's voice echoed.
An involuntary groan. "You sure know when to get on my last nerve. Go away. I'm not in the mood for your missions or vague warnings or threats." When he looked up, he was still alone and he convinced himself he was so tired he had to be hearing things. "If only I did some good down there. If I held out just a bit more, I could live with myself."
Dean closed his tired green eyes, which smothered to a horary slate more than a vibrant jade these days. He sighed once, rising his shoulders one after the other. That's when the hot, stinging tears came. His heart finally caved to the concealed turmoil, drumming out a strong rhythm like hoof beats. The Sheer adrenaline rush that had kept him going for a long time faded. With a deep, charged breath, he sniffed back his emotions.
He let his tired head rest against the headboard. Crying out in anger, sorrow, and guilt, he craved not to feel way he did. "Wonder what forgiveness feels like?" He flopped there, unmoving, letting all roll around him, and losing himself.
Following the blue colored lines as they merged and twisted about the page, a thought crossed his mind. A memory of something he buried in all his guilt and self-doubt suddenly resurfaced in full strength. His breathing accelerated as the hell came back to haunt him.