"What am I supposed to be feeling right now?"

Dean turns to Sam with the question on his lips, brow furrowed in that oh so familiar expression of introspection and regret. Of all Dean's inheritances from Dad, Sam thinks, this was the hardest to earn. They've both bought that expression with blood and loss and pain.

"Uh...pissed?" Sam hazards, knowing that it isn't right, that Dean would be ecstatic to be angry right now. Castiel was working with Crowley, Sam's pissed about that, though he has little right to be after what he's done in the last year. Dean however, he checks his brother's posture, his expression. He can't quite define the emotions stewing there but they aren't entirely rooted in anger.

"I should be." Dean says, mostly to himself. "How..." he pauses, looks down at the beer bottle in his limp fingers and closes his eyes for a second. "I worked for Crowley, Sam." He swallows. "I was freaking desperate."

Sam tries to say something, Dean cuts him off.

"You didn't have a soul." Dean tucks in on himself, mustering some kind of strength. "I would have gone through anything...hell, working for Crowley, working for Death...I did everything I could to fix you." The unnamed emotion roils strongly behind his brother's face and Sam watches in helpless fascination as Dean, finally, finally, falls apart.

"How desperate would he have to be, to even go there?" Dean says quietly, gaze tracking a rift in the plaster of Bobby's wall.

"I hadn't really thought about it." Sam mutters.

Dean shakes his head. "You heard him before, if he loses...we all, lose." Dean feels like something is clenched around his heart, it hurts, it aches and he can't swallow or breathe deep enough to dislodge it. "He's responsible for all of us, heaven, earth..." he feels dizzy with the pain of it, the sheer unfairness that has been heaped on Castiel in return for doing the right thing.

The feeling that he can't identify, the circling dread and pity and panic that radiates from the centre of him.

It's the same feeling he had whenever Dad would leave them for longer than planned.

The feeling he gets when Sam and he divide and go their separate waves, to rousing radio silence.

The feeling that someone you love is so far away that you can't protect them.

He takes a swallow of beer and tries to forget the angel trapped in a ring of holy fire in Bobby's basement. Tries to forget the impotent dread that fills him when Castiel disappears.

At least this way, he knows where his is.