Four Weeks Later
Castiel appears standing outside of the hospital room to find Sam at the side of Dean's bed, sitting and watching vigil. After everything that just happened the brothers are a disheveled wreck, Dean beaten to a pulp by Alistair and Sam frightfully strong in all the wrong ways. Sam looks over to the angel with rage, knowing it's partially Castiel's fault what happened to his brother. He stands and leaves Dean's side for the first time since they arrived at the hospital when he walks out into the hallway to talk to the angel.
"Sam…" Castiel begins but gets cut off immediately.
"Get in there and heal him," Sam demands with fire behind his words. "Miracle. Now!"
"I can't," Castiel sadly returns, wishing he could help. He didn't want to involve Dean in this in the first place and he certainly didn't want what happened afterwards to occur either. His lack of power right now makes him useless… and burdened.
"You and Uriel put him in there…" Sam's clenched jaw releases just enough to talk.
"No," the angel denies. It wasn't him who put Dean in there… or at least he didn't want it to be him.
"…Because you can't keep a simple devil's trap together."
"I don't know what happened. That trap...it shouldn't have broken. I am sorry." Castiel's guilt is killing him. He's felt guilt a lot since meeting the Winchesters, and especially since watching over Lizzy her entire life.
"This whole thing was pointless. You understand that?" Sam continues to attack. "The demons aren't doing the hits. Something else is killing your soldiers."
"Perhaps Alastair was lying." Castiel can only hope this wasn't all for not.
"No," Sam confirms, fists balled. "He wasn't."
Sam walks away and returns to Dean's side. Castiel once again walks to the doorway but something in him stops him from entering. With Sam's anger, he feels unwelcomed.
"Get Lizzy," Sam darkly commands, knowing she needs to be here for this.
"Go get her!" Sam even more sternly tells him.
With Sam booming voice the angel is gone, leaving Sam once more alone with the sound of tubes pumping and heart monitors beeping menacingly.
Dean's quiet and raspy voice suddenly attempts to call out for Sam after hearing his brother's shout pulls him to consciousness.
"Dean!" Sam whips his head around to see his brother's open eyes. He leans forward and grabs Dean's hand. "Hey, hey, hey. I'm right here, Dean."
Dean tries to talk through the tube in his throat, but again can't.
"I'm getting the doctor. Stay awake, ok?" Sam leaves the room and leaves Dean in peace. He closes his eyes and begins scouring his brain for what happened. Slowly it all comes back; Alistair in the angel's trap, him getting out, getting choked out by the demon. And his words… Alistair's words. He said Dean started it all.
A doctor comes into the room, two nurses following close behind, and suddenly he's being poked, prodded, and all around manhandled.
"Breathe in deeply on three," the doctor directs as he grabs ahold of the now disconnected tube in Dean's throat. "One, two, three." The tube is pulled out swiftly and Dean doubles over coughing, the irritation making him nearly choke all over again.
"You're ok," a young nurse says to him, rubbing his back. "Just calm down and breathe slowly."
The look he gives her through his coughing fit, one of sheer hatred, makes Sam relax a little. That's his brother through and through, thankfully.
"Do you remember what happened, Mr. Winchester?" the doctor quickly asks him once his coughing has calmed.
"Ah," Dean tried to blink through the bright light being shined in his eyes. His voice comes out raspy and damaged. "Got jumped."
It's then out of nowhere Alistair's words echo in his head.
And it is written…
"Where were you?" the doctor questions again, Dean's heart rate being checked by one of the nurses while the other checks his IV lines.
"Don't remember," Dean lies as all he can really hear is Alistair's voice sadistically torturing him with the truth.
…That the first seal shall be broken…
"Try to," the doctor asks of him flatly, having clearly asked these same questions several times before.
"I don't remember," Dean grits through his teeth as his anger begins to boil.
…When a righteous man sheds blood in hell…
Looking off to the side, he catches Sam's eyes with his own. He pleads silently to his brother, begging him to get these people away from him. Sadly, Sam doesn't move. He knows that the doctors are just trying to help and in his condition, Dean needs help.
…As he breaks, so shall it break.
Dean closes his eyes and lays back, hands still assaulting him with their medical assistance, and he does what he can to hold it together. He needs answers, answers that will hopefully prove Alistair a liar, but deep down he already knows the demon told him the truth. He could tell when Alistair was lying to him over time. He didn't lie this time.
At least he knows Lizzy is on the way. If Castiel gave even the slightest shit about him still, he'd bring Lizzy there to him as soon as he can, to help him get through this.
"Fuck me," Lizzy complains as she is midstride towards the beer taps behind the bar. Cas's coming in hot and she knows it.
She's felt a weird shift in the air that's made her uneasy the entire day. Something was happening but she just didn't know what. At one point a few hours ago she thought she was getting the beginnings of an unprovoked panic attack when she suddenly couldn't breathe for a few while in her car outside the bar before her shift started. And then right after the headache hit, along with heavy a pressure on her chest. She knows something is not quite right but neither Dean nor Sam called her today. If something was truly wrong, they would have contacted her by now. They always did.
And now this? Cas coming for a visit at work? Really? He's just gonna pop in, out of thin air, in the middle of her work place? Son of a bitch.
"Elizabeth," Castiel calls to her, making Lizzy turn around to look at him, pint glass still in hand.
"Cas," Lizzy loudly calls with wide eyes, upset to see him. "What the hell are you doing here, dude? You're lucky no one saw you just drop in, literally." She looks around and is relieved when no customers seem to have noticed.
"You need to come with me," Castiel quickly tells her, in a hurry to leave.
"Whoa you look terrible," she worries when she sees his condition. He's dirty, his shoulders slumped in defeat, and he's hurt. She can feel his pain. It's in his back and… his grace?
"I'm ok," Castiel pushes her comment aside.
"No you're not, liar," Lizzy tells him.
"I'm here because of Dean," Castiel blurts out, desperate to get to the point. He left the hospital hours ago to handle some business and by now Dean and Sam are both expecting her at any point. "He needs you."
"What's wrong?" Lizzy asks, fear washing across her face and heart racing instantly as she puts the pint glass in her hand down and leans over the bar towards Castiel. "He's hurt, isn't he?"
"Yes," Castiel tells her. "We need to go."
"Shit, I should have known," she berates herself. The dreadful feeling she's had, the inability to breathe, the headache… she's felt him all day. He's been hurt this entire time. "Go outside and I'll meet you there."
Castiel turns around and hightails it out the front door as Lizzy rushes around the bar to leave.
"Johnny, I have to go!" she shouts over to her coworker as she runs.
"What's wrong?" he asks with sheer concern at her demeanor.
"It's Dean," she barely explains. "I really… I have… I have to go."
"Yeah, ok," Johnny answers back, getting her panic as a clear signal that something is seriously wrong. "Call me if you need anything."
"Thank you," she shouts over her shoulder as she sprints out the bar door and to Castiel standing in the middle of the parking lot. "What's going on? Is Dean ok?"
Without a word, he presses a hand to her forehead and they disappear.
Landing abruptly in the middle of the hospital hallway, Lizzy looks around her frantically for Dean or his room.
"Where is he?" she asks of Castiel, eyes still darting around when she suddenly sees the easily recognized frame of a man on the other end of the hall leaning against a door way. "Sam!"
He turns quickly towards the familiar voice and sees her running to him, her heeled boots clicking loudly as she does. Sam jogs a few steps towards her to get to her sooner, Lizzy slamming into him in a hug once she reaches him.
"What happened!?" she frantically asks him, her cheek pressed to his chest. "Sam, is he ok?"
"He'll be fine," Sam lets her know, the fear dropping away slightly with the news. "He's already awake."
"Awake!?" she worries up to him, pushing away from their embrace and grasping hard onto his arms. "How long was he out?"
"A couple hours," Sam explains. "It was scary for a little bit, but he's Dean. He always comes through."
"Oh shit, Sam," she sighs. "What the hell happened?"
"Sit with me for a second," Sam requests, pulling her by her hand towards a waiting room that is empty but she doesn't follow. He feels the tug on his arm when she stays in place.
"I need to see him, now Sam," Lizzy tells him with glassy eyes, her heart pounding a mile a minute. She needs to get to him. It's her only thought.
"Five minutes," Sam asks of her. "He's ok, I swear. And you need to know some stuff before you go in there."
Begrudgingly she walks with Sam to the waiting area, sitting in a chair facing him and keeping her need to get to Dean at bay. Sam would know best right now and if she should talk to him first, she will. But it's killing her. And ever since she got into the building, the physical pain she feels has doubled with her closeness to him, and her emotional pain is through the roof. It's like she's pulling it off of him and onto her without even trying.
"The angels took Dean," Sam begins to explain as he attempts to sort through the story correctly. "They got their hands on Alistair, strung him up and then called on Dean for help."
"Help with what?" Lizzy asks, a hand clutching her chest as the toll her emotions takes grows larger.
"A bunch of angels in Cas' garrison were getting whacked and they needed to know who was behind it," Sam says before taking a deep breath. "They needed Dean to get that information from Alistair. He's the only one who'd be able to work that out of him."
Lizzy backs up in her chair, ice running through her veins as horror coats her completely. "Torture?" she asks, the word not fully leaving her mouth as it dies on her tongue before it can full form. "They wanted him to…?"
Sam nods. He took the idea badly too, but the fear and absolute anger written in her expression is much worse than he could have hope for.
"Did he?" she implores, wide eyes filled with utter fright.
Sam nods solemnly again and Lizzy closes her eyes, the teardrops cresting as she does. He can't do that. He can't. It'll break him… and maybe it did. She always feared something like this happening once she discovered the truth behind his time in hell. Dean did the unthinkable and did it well for ten whole years. He came back to her destroyed, not the same man he was before, and reliving any of that could be damaging beyond repair. What that must have put him through...
"I knew it," she whispers. "Something felt off all day, felt horrible, and dark. I could feel him, Sam. I could feel him when he did it. He's not ok. This is so bad."
Sam leans forward, takes her hands in his, and looks at her, pain and all. He hasn't seen her in over a month and this was not how he wanted their little reunion to go. He and Dean had planned to surprise her in a few days, dropping in for a little bit before heading back on the road and hopefully bringing her with them. They both agreed they needed her around, her presence keeping both in check and making life more manageable. Sam's re-involvement in his mental exercises alone proves that he needs her around to help him. She asked him to stop and he wanted to, but the second she was out of sight he dove right back in.
"How'd he get hurt?" Lizzy finally asks, wondering how things went from Dean torturing Alistair to Dean being in a hospital bed.
"The trap sucked," Sam tells her honestly. "Alistair got out and attacked. Dean's lucky to be alive."
"The angels let this happen?" she asks, the fire burning hotter. "Their trap sucked so Dean is seriously hurt because of them?"
"And he's alive because Castiel tried to help," Sam rebuts. He's had time to think some things over. He's still angry at Castiel, very angry, but at least he came to Dean's aid when it counted the most. "If Cas didn't bust in and try to fend Alistair off when he did, Dean would be dead."
Lizzy goes from wanting to kill Castiel to wanting to kiss him in a matter of seconds. She conflicted once more as to how to feel about the angel. He needs to stop doing this to her, pulling her back and forth between trust and disappointment.
"Then where's Alistair now?" Lizzy asks, her grip tightening on his hands. "Did he get away?"
"No," Sam slowly answers. "He's dead."
"Good," Lizzy darkly responds, taking some pleasure in the fact that the thing that did this to her Dean is dead. Otherwise she would be out the door in a second, holy water and magic knife at the ready. "So Cas took care of him?"
"Not exactly," Sam sadly informs her, eyes falling onto the floor. Get it over with, he thinks to himself. Cas knows and Dean will soon too. He should just tell Lizzy and get it over with. She deserves that much after caring about him and trying to help him as much as she has. The letdown she'll have in him might be crushing, but it's right to tell her.
"Then how?" Lizzy asks, Sam's following silence keeping her on edge. "Sam…"
"Lizzy, I…" Sam starts but doesn't get through telling her. "It was me… that…." He shakes his head, mad at himself already for not having the balls to outright say it.
"No," Lizzy says with fear, taking her hands back from his grip. "No way. Sam, please…."
When he looks back up to her he looks so small. The guilt and shame in his eyes making him look like a kid again, waiting for a parent to dole out a punishment.
Lizzy immediately covers her face with her hands and brings her knees up to her chest. She sobs her disappointment and fright. She knew he was up to something, knew for sure when she caught him sneaking out of her place at two in the morning a month ago, and in the back of her mind this was it all along but something in her kept forcing her to deny her second guessing. He was Sam, he was doing the right thing, he wasn't using his powers. She and Dean did whatever they could to get him back on track. But she never was able to fully get through to him.
"I should have known," she cries out into her hands, Sam watching helplessly as he feels worse and worse for what he's done. "I knew something was wrong with you and I did nothing. I didn't do anything."
"Lizzy, it was my decision to make," Sam says, a hand dropping on her knee. "I saved Dean. It's a good thing."
"No, Sam," Lizzy looks up, her makeup running down her cheeks. "No it isn't."
"You just have to look at it differently, just once," Sam implores from her.
"I've looked at it every which way," she says through her tears. "I've tried to see it your way, I have. But this still can't be good!"
"Lizzy, please," Sam begs while reaching to wipe her makeup smudged tears but she just pushes his hand away from her before he can continue.
"I need to go see Dean," Lizzy tells him, standing up. She looks at him one last time before walking for the door. She pauses with her back to him before leaving, not able to look him in the eye again. "Sam-I-Am, I'll always love you, trust that. But this… I'm scared this and now… I'm scared of you." She sighs, knowing what she has to say to him will crush him. She tried so hard to not tell him this, but he's left her no choice as she goes for the gusto. "And Louie wouldn't want you to do this. She loved you and this is not something she'd want for you. She'd want to stop you however she could."
Lizzy leaves him sitting alone in the waiting room, silence all around him as Sam's shame makes him break. He remains there alone, doesn't go after her or go talk to Dean. He cries alone, lamenting what he thinks is the loss of an ally and good friend. He begins feeling that alone is something he might have to deal with a lot in the future if this is the reaction people will be giving him over his decisions. And all he wanted to do was help.
"Hot shot," Lizzy calls out while quickly making her way to the chair at his side.
"L," Dean sighs in relief just at the sight of her. He instantly feels a calm come over him with her presence, the stress of everything lessening and comfort finally being found for the first time all day when she takes his hand in hers.
"You look like shit," she says through her worried tears as she runs a loving hand down the side of his face, avoiding any swollen bruising she sees. He closes his eyes and leans into the warmth of her palm. God, he really does feel a million times better with just her touch.
"Looks worse than it is," he assures her through lying teeth. Actually, he feels much worse than he looks.
"I'm so sorry," she cries, her hand never leaving his cheek. "Dean, I'm sorry this happened."
"Hey," he calmly says back. "You didn't have anything to do with this."
"I should have," she rebuts. "I never should've left you guys. It was selfish and I should've stayed on the road."
"No," Dean tells her. "You needed to. And I'm glad you weren't there for this. It wasn't good." He pauses, contemplating what he should and shouldn't tell her. She's always told him to lean on her, to ask for help, to tell her things he needs to let out, but this one is heavier than anything else he's ever ask for help with.
"What's going on in there?" Lizzy questions him, her fingers lightly combing through his hair. His eyes meet hers sadly. "Hate to tell you, but I know when something is eating at you. Can literally feel it. What is it?"
Dean opens his mouth to answer but at the same time that familiar fluttering of wings fills the room. "Great," Dean grumbles as he looks to the other side of his bed, Castiel now occupying the seat there.
"Are you all right?" the angel asks.
"Is that a joke?" Lizzy loudly asks, her anger still there for the angels and what they've done to her Dean. Dean looks to her quickly, silently asking her to take it easy. She complies but her ire stays with her.
"No thanks to you," Dean answers with quiet disdain.
"You need to be more careful," Castiel informs him.
"You need to learn how to manage a fucking devil's trap," Lizzy spits out, unable to do ask Dean asks of her.
"That's not what I mean," Castiel explains simply. "Uriel is dead."
"Was it the demons?" Dean asks hopefully. He'd love for that dickless jackass to go down in the most painful way. Demons usually did a great job of that.
"It was disobedience," Castiel says.
"So it was you," Lizzy surmises, earning herself a hard stare from the angel.
"He was working against us," Castiel adds, trying to explain that he is, in fact, more on the humans' side of this.
"Is it true?" Dean question, needing to know the truth. "Did I break the first seal?"
"What!?" Lizzy nearly shouts to him with the loaded question. What the fuck is he talking about? First seal? Dean?
He ignores her question. "Did I start all this?"
"Yes," Castiel sadly replies as he feels Lizzy's panic grip her from across the hospital bed.
"What does that mean?" Lizzy asks quickly, Dean looking away from her with the question. "Someone start talking!"
"And it is written," Castiel begins to quote as Dean closes his eyes, willing Castiel's voice not to become Alistair's in his ears. "The first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks, so shall it break."
Lizzy's death grip threatens to break Dean's hand with its strength once the truth is given to her.
"Come on," she says disbelieving. "That can't be true."
"It is," Castiel firmly tells her before turning back to Dean. "When we discovered Lilith's plan for you, we laid siege to hell and we fought our way to get to you before you…"
"Jump-started the apocalypse," Dean finished for him.
"And we were too late," Castiel says.
"Why didn't you just leave me there, then?" Dean asks, his voice cracking.
"It's not blame that falls on you, Dean," Castiel informs him.
"Damn straight," Lizzy adds, fearful that Dean will become a guilt-filled mess… as if he isn't already. She doesn't know if he can handle this much being put on him.
"It's fate," Castiel ignores her. "The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it. You have to stop it."
"Lucifer? The apocalypse? What does that mean?" Dean begs of the angel. Castiel gets a faraway look and Dean gets worried. "Hey! Don't you go disappearing on me, you son of a bitch. What does that mean!?"
"I don't know."
"Bullshit!" Lizzy shouts at the angel, knowing he has to be aware of something.
"I don't," he repeats. "They don't tell me much. I just know our fate rests with you."
"Well, then you guys are screwed," Dean sadly tells Castiel.
"Dean," Lizzy sadly says his name with hopes to stop him from saying such things. Hearing him this weak, this broken, it hurts more than any fractured bone or gunshot wound ever could. This is crushing.
"I can't do it, Cas," Dean keeps going. "It's too big. Alastair was right. I'm not all here. I'm not strong enough. Well, I guess I'm not the man either of our dads wanted me to be."
As a tear slides silently down Dean's cheek, Lizzy breaks. She cries, looking at him, hurt by his words and his lack of faith in his own self. And to hear him think his father would be disappointed in him, she can't take it.
"Find someone else," Dean cries. "It's not me."
"Whether you want it to be or not," Castiel starts, looking straight into Dean's eyes. "It is you."
Castiel leaves them after his statement, the room is quiet but for the medical machines working. The lack of noise is deafening.
Lizzy climbs up onto the hospital bed and lays down next to Dean, careful not to jostle him or hurt him any further. She needs to be next to him, as close as possible. Dean looks away from her, unable to look her in the eye with the shame and disappointment he's sure she has in him. He feels her pull herself under the blankets and mold her body into his side. Her head resting on his shoulder, she begins talking, hoping she can get through to him.
"Please don't blame yourself."
"It's my fault," Dean says quietly. "I deserve every ounce of the blame."
"You didn't know," Lizzy rebuts. "And you did all that you could…"
"And I wasn't strong enough." Dean tenses up as the conversation rolls around in his head, tears still making their way sadly down his face. "I ended the world. All because I couldn't handle what I'd signed up for."
"No one could handle that," Lizzy tries again.
"No one but dad," Dean challenges. "He was down there years, centuries longer than I was. He never gave in. He never let them change him."
"And he's the exception to the rule then," Lizzy explains. "Your father was hardened long before he ever went down there. He already went through the loss of your mother, the absolute love of his life. That ruined him before hell ever could."
Dean doesn't speak. His soul aches but he doesn't speak. She may make a good point, but it doesn't matter. He feels her hand against his far cheek, turning his head gently to look at her. When he sees her bright chestnut eyes, for the first time since he'd met her he doesn't feel better. He feels more ashamed for letting her down, the one person he never wanted to ever let down.
"You tell me that if something came along and took me away that you wouldn't become something else, something cold and tough that could handle anything after that loss." She looks to him for an answer, but he just stares back, tired.
"I don't want to justify my mistakes anymore," he tells her in a sob before looking back out the window. "I made them and I have to own up to them."
"Then we'll figure it out," Lizzy tells him with her head back on his shoulder, holding him tighter than before.
"How do we figure out something so damn big?" his deflated voice asks of her.
"Honestly, I don't know," she admits. "But if you're supposed to stop it all, then we'll stop it all."
"L, stop giving me the Tony Robins," Dean begs of her. "Face facts here. We're screwed. I'm screwed. The world is gonna burn and there's nothing I can do about that. I'm weak. I can't…."
His head snaps sharply around to her when she grabs his chin and makes him look her in the eyes. The surprise of her harsh actions is added to quickly by her harsh words.
"Cut the shit," she tells him with anger. "You are Dean fucking Winchester. You laugh at demons and tell angels to go fuck themselves. You've conquered absolutely everything that has been thrown at you. You are strong and you can handle this. I know you. And how many times have you told me I can handle something that I thought I couldn't?"
Dean closes his eyes but she shakes his chin when he does. "Hey, look at me." Dean reluctantly does so. "We can figure this out, ok? You, me, Sam… you aren't alone. Clearly you have to do this and if instead of sack up you decide you're gonna act like a chicken shit over this, then I'm gonna kill you myself."
"What the fuck, L…"
"Angel blood, remember?" Lizzy reminds him. "That shit is in me. I was told that I'm gonna be important to the saving of the fucking world and you told me I could handle that. You told me I was strong enough to get through it all and I believed you. Now it's your turn to believe me. Dean, you are no push over and no pussy last I checked. Time to buck up. I already have because of you. You cannot quit on me," the tears begin to fall all over again. "Not now."
And with that, he fully breaks. Dean cries for really the first time in a long time. Lizzy pulls him in, burying his head in her neck and holding him tightly, showing him he's safe and she's there. In the moment Lizzy loses her cool too and cries right along with him. She isn't sure if it's the fear she has for both their futures, the fright she holds for what Sam's been doing, the physical pain he's in, or the fact that she's so connected to him through the Nephilim blood in her that she literally feel his pain as her own. Whatever it is, most likely a combination of it all, she gives in.
Sam picks a hell of a time to look in and check on Dean. He finds his brother and Lizzy clutching to the other sobbing and he doesn't know what to do. Air, he needs air.
Walking quickly through the hospital, he jogs out to the quiet parking lot. Hiding behind an old Volkswagen, he sits on the asphalt and leans his arms on his bent up knees. He drops his head against the bumper of the car with a sigh and looks up at the clear blue sky of the day. Most people are probably taking advantage of the weather, going for walks, getting yard work done, but here he is; hiding from the sorrow inside that hospital. Hiding from his brother because of what he did, his big secret revealed. Hiding from Lizzy and the way she's going to look at him differently from now on. Hiding from the always evolving burden that their fucked up lives continually added onto them.
"Leave us alone," Sam calmly yet angrily says up into the air above him. "It's too much. I don't know how much you think a few humans can handle, but we are way past manageable. We don't deserve this. All we've ever done is help others. We've given up everything for this shitty, horrible life we've been given. Stop making it worse. Please. Just… just…"
Sam lowers his head onto his forearms in absolute loss. "Just leave us alone. Please."