Disclaimer: This is a transformative work of fiction based on the original creation of E. Kripke. Done for love not money.

Rating: T for one bad word...

A/N: Okay... I've been picking at this for days. As always, I'm not sure it says what I set out to say, and I'm really hoping it doesn't end up too talkatcha... but Dean's reaction – or lack thereof – to killing Gwen has been bugging the crap out of me.

Spoilers: For all aired episodes – up to 6.16 – for which this is a tag.

They hadn't really discussed it, but neither Dean nor Sam wanted Bobby to be alone after they left Rufus' grave, so they followed him back to his place. They would have likely gone back anyway – it had slowly become a base of operations for the current crisis. And for once neither Dean nor Sam seemed as enamoured of life on the open road as they always had been.

The drive back was relatively quiet. Dean had a tape in, but for once he wasn't blasting it. Both brothers were lost in thought, however.

Sam had so many questions. He'd learned his lesson, though. He wasn't scratching, but he couldn't help his innate curiosity. He'd spent almost a year with their grandfather and cousin. He wasn't sure how he felt about shooting Samuel, and he had no idea how Dean felt about shooting Gwen. Dean had said Samuel had tried to have them killed, used them as pawns, wasn't really family. Dean had made sure to emphasize that Sam had only done what he had to do. After all, Samuel was possessed by that worm at the time. Yeah. Dean had had a lot to say on the subject of their grandfather. And Dean had made no secret that he was hell bent on killing Samuel himself. But he'd said precious little about Gwen. Their cousin.

Dean had flat out refused to discuss the time between Sam's jumping in the hole and his getting his soul back. Sure, he'd filled in very, very broad strokes, but only a very little bit and only on a need-to-know basis. Sam knew virtually nothing about Gwen. Just a passing reference that of all of them, she'd been ok. When Dean had said it, Sam had seen that there were regrets there; that maybe she was more than "ok" in Dean's books.

Sam had noticed how Dean's eyes skittered across Gwen's lifeless body. He'd seen the telltale tightening around his eyes and then the wall slamming back in place. Hard.

Dean hadn't been distant since he'd been back. He'd been his usual smart-ass, over-bearing-big-brother self. At least to an uneducated eye. Sam didn't need to know the details. He knew that this last year and a half had left marks on his brother. Something had changed, but Sam was having a hard time putting his finger on what it was.

Sam was woken by the car coming to a stop. He looked up blearily to find himself in Bobby's yard. He stretched and rubbed his eyes.

"You should have woken me up; I would have taken a turn," Sam admonished. There was no denying that he'd been sleeping more than usual since being re-souled, he was just so tired all the time. And there was no denying that he'd been sleeping way more than his brother.

Dean just grunted in response.

"You going to turn her off?" Sam raised an eyebrow at his brother.

"I'm just gonna have a quick look under the hood. Go ahead in and make sure Bobby's ok..."


"I'm fine, Sam. Leave it alone – I just want to look at the car for a minute." Dean stared straight ahead, and Sam easily saw his jaw clenching and unclenching.

"You know it wasn't your fault, right? It wasn't you," Sam was struck with how many times Dean had said the same thing to him.

"Yeah, Sam. I do get it." Dean turned and looked at him then.

Sam had expected to see a crack then. Some tiny indication to the pain he knew his brother was inflicting on himself. Or at the very least an indication of the strain of keeping the wall up. Any of Dean's usual tells. What Sam wasn't expecting to see was nothing. But that's what he saw. Dean's face wasn't simply a mask, it was simply blank. And that scared the hell out of him.

"Get out."

Sam was too stunned to do anything other than comply.

He grabbed his bag from the car and watched as Dean pulled around to the bay where he preferred to work on the Impala. At least that hadn't changed. Dean tinkering with the car always helped him sort things out. Sam sighed and headed in to check on Bobby.


It was late before Bobby finally staggered off to get some sleep. He'd talked a bit more about Rufus. About hunting. About theories on "Eve". And then he'd circled back to Rufus. By then his words and thoughts were both slurred. Sam sat and listened, unable to help drawing more parallels between himself and Dean. Sam wasn't interested in getting drunk, so he'd had one drink and then switched over to nursing a beer or two. He kept waiting for Dean to come in. Bobby glanced at the door and then the window and then the clock more than once, both of them noting the passing of time.

"Idiot," Sam mumbled, sliding into his coat after he was sure Bobby was safely snoring in his bed. He was pretty sure his brother had finished tinkering with his car a long time ago, which left only one other thing he'd be doing sitting out in the cold by himself.

Sure enough, Sam found his brother sitting on the closed hood of his car. Sam was a little surprised to see that Dean appeared to be working on his second bottle. He hoped the empty bottle on the ground hadn't been close to full because the second one in Dean's hand was close to empty.

"I'll be in when I'm ready." Dean didn't bother looking at his brother. His tone didn't invite company, but that had never deterred Sam in the past and he simply joined his brother on the hood.

"Bit cold for a picnic, isn't it?"

Dean grunted and took another pull on the bottle.

"You said that you were going to give her a quick look under the hood and then be in."

"I never said I was coming in."

"So what? You just going to stay out here? Did Bobby or I do something to piss you off?"


"No what?"

"No to both. I'm not pissed."

"I don't think I'd go that far," Sam toed the empty on the ground.

Dean sighed.

"Yeah, well. I'm not pissed off...or pissed... enough."

"Is this about Gwen?"

"NO." Dean pressed his lips together, dropped his eyes and shook his head. "No. And yes."

"You were possessed by that worm, Dean. Bobby couldn't shake it, and he shook a damn demon. It wasn't your fault."

"Really? Maybe I wasn't responsible for the act itself, but it's just typical, isn't it? Everyone that makes the mistake of coming into contact with me suffers or dies – or both. I get now why Death wanted me to sub for him. I'm a fucking natural at it."

"What? No! Dean, you can't mean that. It's the job. It's not you. We help people. You said yourself that's the whole point, right?"

Dean huffed, humourlessly.

"I am the damn job, Sam. It's what I was born to become. I'm a fucking natural at it. Don't you remember how proud I used to be whenever Dad said that?"

Sam did remember. He'd been so jealous of the praise at the time.

"And now that's all I'm fit for. All I'm good for. Killing. I'm just glad that we don't have a lot of family left for me to get killed. Or killed again, I guess, cuz I've already gotten you and Bobby killed. Gwen's just another drop in the bucket."

Sam couldn't gather his thoughts quickly enough as Dean pushed off the car, depositing the now empty bottle in the trash as he stalked toward the house.

If there was one thing Sam thought he knew, it was his brother. He'd thought he'd known what to expect when he'd made his way out in search of him. Sam was sure that Dean would be mostly shit-faced and ready to talk about what had happened. Ready to tell Sam that Gwen had meant something to him. Bobby wouldn't give details, but he did say that Dean had admitted he regretted leaving her with Samuel, that she hadn't been like the rest of them.

Sam hadn't expected for Dean to have downed as much alcohol as he had and still be barely drunk. But when Sam thought about it, Dean was drinking more than ever, and sleeping less than ever. Sam had never seen his brother so tired or so empty. So utterly closed off.

The thing that had really shocked Sam was Dean calling himself a killer. Sam knew that Dean talked himself down, but at his core, Dean had always believed in the family business, had been proud to be a part of that. It was what had always gotten Dean through the hard times.

Sam shivered as he followed his brother into the house. Somehow he'd have to convince his brother that what they were doing was important. That they helped more people than not. He hadn't seen Dean this devoid of hope since they'd faced Famine and he'd wanted to say yes to Michael. The problem was that with so many holes in the story, it was hard for Sam to re-trace his brother's steps. Somehow, he'd have to find his way to Dean and then lead him back. Because there was one thing Sam knew about his brother, and that was that Dean's capacity to care about people, to put them before himself made Dean the farthest thing from a killer that Sam knew of.

A/N2: I'm needy, and I miss reviews, so please take a moment to review?