This is an tag for episode 4.19-Jump the Shark. Much thanks to my husband who edited and critiqued without criticizing. If there are any errors left, we both missed them.
Supernatural is the property of E. Kripke and the CW.
What'd You Get?
"What are you doing, Dean?" Castiel asked, scanning the nearly empty motel parking lot. The older Winchester brother was leaning against the Impala, rolling a bottle in his hands. It was the darkest part of the night. Dean's clothes still held a hint of grave yard dirt. There was a small blood smear under his right ear. Castiel noted all of this in an instant.
Dean looked at the angel and gave him a slight smile. "I'm holding a private wake and having a beer. Want one?" He leaned over and picked up a bottle from the half empty six pack at his feet and held it out to the angel. When Castiel shook his head in refusal, Dean finished off the last dregs of the bottle he was drinking and threw it as hard as he could into the darkness. A second later there was a satisfying sound of breaking glass. "Your loss,' he said twisting open the bottle.
"Why the wake?" Castiel inquired gently.
"For my loss."
"Your half brother?"
Dean snorted and shook his head. "My Dad," he practically whispered.
Castiel tilted his head in confusion. "Your father died around two years ago."
"Yeah, John Winchester died about two years ago; Sam and I burned his body, but I just this last couple of days, finally, totally lost my Dad." He took another swig.
"I worshiped my Dad, you know," he said conversationally to the angel. "I tried so hard to be a good son. Tried everything I could to make him proud. I over looked every fault and excused every failing. I thought I knew him better than anyone else alive." Dean took a big swallow. "Turns out, I didn't know him at all."
Dean leaned back against the Impala and crossed his legs. He tilted his beer bottle toward the angel. "You know, when we were growing up, Dad would take off for days and even weeks at a time. When I was as young as seven, he would leave us alone with only me to take care of Sam. I remember being so afraid that I wouldn't be good enough, that I wouldn't be able to take care of my baby brother and that something would get him. I would sit up all night to watch him sleep and make sure he was safe. Every little sound would terrify me because I would wonder if it could be the same monster than took Mom and if it was coming to take Sammy. I would want my Dad so bad it hurt, literally hurt. I hated that he was gone but I told myself that he was helping people. That because of what he was doing some other kid still had their mom, some other family was whole."
He took another large gulp of the bitter brew and glared at the now almost empty bottle. The glare changed into something searching. He stared at the bottle as if it held some answer he was desperately seeking.
"Adam was nineteen. I would have been about eleven when he was conceived. I still remember the September when I was eleven. I remember it because Dad was almost two weeks late getting back from a hunt. We had run out of money, almost run out of food. I was skimping meals to make sure that Sam had enough to eat. The rent on the run down one-bedroom apartment was coming due in a few days and I didn't know what I was going to do. I had to pretend that everything was fine for Sammy's sake during the day, but at night, after I put him to bed, I would sit and breathe real slow to calm my panic as I tried to figure out what to do and how I would take care of Sam. I remember wondering where Dad was, what he was doing, when he would be back, but mostly I wondered if he was alive. I worried that Sam and I would be left alone."
Dean became quiet for a second and then, with a tremendous cry that could have been either from anguish or anger, he threw the empty bottle as far as he could. "You know what he was doing while I was going hungry and Sam was crying for his Daddy to tuck him in? That son-of-a-bitch was starting another family."
"Dean, your father had enough love in his heart for all of his children." Castiel meant his words to comfort, but that was not how they were received.
Dean stooped down and grabbed another bottle. He carefully unscrewed the cap before he responded. "Sam, before he became this big believer in the John Winchester principals of parenting, used to argue that Dad didn't love us at all, that he just needed soldiers in his own private war against the dark." Dean turned his head and stared at the window of the motel room they were using, the room where his brother was sleeping off his blood loss. Dean had made sure that he would be sleeping for several hours more because he slipped something a little extra into the pain pills and antibiotics that he had given Sam after stitching up his side and arms.
"I told him that I knew that things were tough, but that Dad did the best he could do. I believed it too. Man, I really believed it." Dean's voice was barely above a whisper as he finished his thought. He cleared his throat. "Turns out I was wrong. Dad must have just been practicing with us 'cause he more-or-less got it right with Adam. He taught me to drive the Impala before I was even a teen just in case he was too torn up to drive. He taught me to play poker and pool so I could hustle cash for food, gas, and ammo. He taught Adam to drive the Impala…the Impala…because he was old enough to get a learner's permit and to play cards and pool for fun—just to do something with…his…son."
Dean finished the beer in his hand and pointed the empty bottle at Castiel. "Now don't you think I'm jealous of Adam. I'm not. He was Dad's son and Dad needed to do right by him." He sighed. "I just wish Dad could have given a little of that to me and Sam. I wish that Sam could have gotten to know the Dad I remember from before the fire."
"Dean, your father loved you and your brother," the angel reiterated quietly, his voice like a small breeze.
Dean didn't respond at first, his eyes fixed on something only he could see. "Maybe, probably, Sam at least—me," he shrugged, "love, I don't know anymore. However, he needed me. Dad needed me to take care of Sam for him while he was gone and most of the time even when he wasn't. Dad needed me to watch his back and stitch his wounds; to hustle when he was laid up. Dad needed me to save Sam or kill him. Yeah, he needed me right until he didn't anymore and then he left.
"Still that Yellow-eyed-bastard had it right; Dad needed me, but not nearly as much as I needed him." Dean looked down as if embarrassed by his next admission. "Still need him."
Castiel noted a suspicious brightness in Dean's eyes. His sight was more acute than a human's, even in his vessel. He was compelled to repeat himself. "Dean, your father loved you and so does mine."
Dean shrugged again, like the whole thing was no big deal. "I think, maybe, I was nothing but another weapon in my father's arsenal and now in your's. You value a good weapon but you don't love 'em."
Dean barked a short, quiet, mirthless laugh. "Dad needed me until he didn't and now Sam doesn't need me any more either—I've lost him too. But hey, at least your Father still needs me so I'm not totally worthless."
Dean looked to see if there was any beer left, nudging the empty six pack with his toe. He straightened to go back into the room and watch over his brother while he slept. He half turned to the door before looking back at the angel.
"Cas, GhoulAdam told me that for Adam's fourteenth birthday Dad took him to a ball game. He asked me what I got for mine. You want to know what I got for my fourteenth birthday?"
Castiel nodded once.
"I got forgotten."