Disclaimer: //closes eyes and wishes fervently. Opens eyes// Damn.
A/N: mild spoilers for 4.03 and 4.19. Just a short short. Dean's little speech at the end got me thinking. Hope you like it.
"I mean, I worshipped the guy, you know? I dressed like him, I acted like him, I listened to the same music."
Dean slipped silently out of the motel room, striding over to the Impala. He patted his baby and leaned back against her. Back in the room, Sam, weakened by blood loss, slept the sleep of the—Dean struggled to find the right word, since "just" somehow didn't seem to fit Sam anymore, and Dean was fervently hoping "damned" didn't fit his brother, either—well, Sam was really, really asleep.
This whole business with Adam had shaken him to the core. Once, he'd thought he knew his father and his brother so well, only to learn how much they'd both kept hidden from him. And to have brought home to him yet again that he had always been the odd man out, that no matter how much he had tried to pattern himself after his father—desperate for his father's approval, desperate to be able to protect his brother—it was just one more failure in a life full of them. Had anything in his life ever really been his?
He thought back to the dreamroot incident, what his demonic doppelganger had said, almost the same words Dean himself had used at Adam's pyre. "I mean, your car? That's Dad's. Your favourite leather jacket? It's Dad's. Your music? Dad's."
"It is not true, Dean." A calm voice, a presence suddenly standing beside him. Dean wondered when he had become so attuned to Castiel that some angelic spidey sense alerted him just as the angel manifested, preventing the kind of jumpy surprise he used to experience early in their relationship.
"Damn, are you reading my mind?" Dean growled. Then he sighed and shook his head. "I'm dreaming, right?"
Castiel looked as unruffled as ever. "Yes. It is the easiest way to reach you."
"Great. I can't even be alone in my dreams!" Even as he said it, Dean wondered when the Winchester who had always sought out people, who had wanted nothing more than his family together and around him, had morphed into someone who had begun to crave alone-time.
"You are wrong."
"Usually am," Dean said sarcastically. "About what this time?"
"That you are but a reflection of your father. You have long since stepped out of his shadow and surpassed him." Castiel canted his head in a familiar gesture. "I do not understand why you do not see that."
Dean stood silent for a minute, torn between scoffing at the angel and a feeling of warmth at Castiel's regard. Then he fingered his leather jacket pointedly and patted the Impala again. "Maybe because of stuff like this?" he asked with a touch of bitterness.
Castiel looked forward, his eyes fixed, as usual, on some point only he could see. "Do you remember when I sent you back in time?"
"Oh, gee, no, Cas. That whole thing just slipped my mind until you mentioned it."
The angel raised an eyebrow and looked puzzled. "I do not understand how you could forget something like that."
Dean sighed and dropped his head. "And you were making so much progress in the 'grasping human humor' department, too." Then he raised his eyes and looked at Castiel and his voice took on a bleak note. "I remember. All too well. Fucked up again, didn't I?"
"I told you then and it is still true: There was nothing you could have done to change the end result. But that is not the reason I mentioned it. You see these things," he waved a hand at the battered leather jacket and the Impala, "as signs that you are copying your father. Yet, was he not really copying you?"
Dean blinked. "What?"
"If not for you, Dean, what manner of car would you be driving? Not this one. And is it not possible that your father chose to wear such a jacket because he liked the one worn by the stranger who convinced him to make the purchase?"
Dean gaped at the angel, then shut his jaw with a snap. A thoughtful expression crossed his face, followed after a moment by a slow smile. "Well, I'll be damned." He realized what he'd said and rolled his eyes. "Again." The smile grew wider. "So Dad copied me first, is that what you're saying?"
Then he laughed. "Man, is that a brain twister. I drive my baby and wear this jacket because I got them from Dad. And he had the car and the jacket because of me! Gives whole new meaning to that, 'Which came first, the chicken or the egg' thing, doesn't it?"
Castiel looked perplexed. "Clearly, my Father would have created the chicken first."
Dean gave him a wry smile. "Way to ruin the paradox there, Cas." He pushed off the Impala and straightened up. "Time to wake up. See how Sammy's doing." He turned to look at the angel. "So maybe Dad was the reflection, huh?" Castiel inclined his head and Dean gave a single nod in return. "Thanks, Cas."
He stopped at the room door when he heard the whisper of flapping wings, then went inside without looking back. He knew if he did, he would see only his baby, standing alone beneath the night sky.
A/N: I'd had this idea floating around since seeing "In The Beginning" and realizing that, in fact, Dean himself had been the one who had started everything! The speech at the end of "Jump The Shark" had sort of crystallized everything. Please let me know what you thought.