Title: Tear Me Down to the Ground

Author: Heavenli24

Pairings/Couples/Category: Dean W., Alastair, Castiel

Rating: MATURE

Disclaimer: The characters of Supernatural do not belong to me and no infringement is intended.

Summary: 'And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks, so shall it break.' Dean thought the suffering had ended when he was pulled out of Hell. He was wrong. Spoilers for episode 4x16.

"You ask me to open that door and walk through it…" His voice trembled as he looked through the small window into the stark, bare room. His stomach lurched at the sight of the demon bound to the devil's trap, fear rising up inside him at the thought of having to go in there. "…you will not like what walks back out."

His eyes closed and he swallowed shakily, a myriad of emotions swirling through him. The moment Castiel had told him what they wanted him to do, it had been like a punch to the gut.

Instinct reaction.

A resounding no.

His heart was pounding and he could feel the sweat beading on his forehead as nausea rose in his throat.

He couldn't do this, he couldn't.

His mind was screaming, crying out for help, begging him not to take that step back into the darkness. He'd spent so long trying to bury that part of him, had convinced himself that if he did enough good, saved enough people, maybe he could redeem himself and the good would cancel out the evil he'd done. Maybe he could forget that he was nothing but a sick monster who got off on other people's pain.

If he did this, did what Castiel, of all people, was asking him to do, it would bring it all back, everything he'd worked so hard to push down, pretend he hadn't done or felt or enjoyed, and he couldn't let that happen. He didn't know if he would still be Dean when he came back out.

And after everything that had happened, everything he'd been through, he would give anything to just be Dean again.

I just want you to know that I am so proud of you.

His father's words echoed in his head as he slowly wheeled the metal cart into the room, but he pushed them away, refusing to contemplate what John might think if he could see him now.

He kept his head down, eyes focused on nothing in particular. He couldn't look at the cloth-covered cart, couldn't think about what was hiding beneath. Couldn't look straight ahead either, couldn't face the demon bound to the devil's trap before him. If he did, everything would come flooding back; the hatred, the pain, the fury… and something else. Something he didn't want to acknowledge, couldn't think of.

As he moved further inside the room, the evil bastard started singing, raspy tones hitting him right in the gut, memories slamming into his mind. He finally looked up, straightened up, confronted his former mentor. Dean swung the cart around, bringing it to a stop and pulling the cloth away. He forced himself to keep calm, to not give Alastair the satisfaction of seeing what this particular song did to him.

It was the same song the demon would gleefully sing to himself as he sliced and diced and carved into him, every single fucking day, for years and years on end.

Keeping his face expressionless, he turned to face Alastair, suddenly feeling that familiar curl of anticipation, of hunger, deep inside as he approached the devil's trap.

Finally, he had him right where he wanted him; after thirty long years of torture at the monster's hands, he could dish some of it out himself. He eyed a particularly sharp-looking instrument resting on the cart, feeling his fingers itching to reach out for it, to plunge it into his captive over and over… and over.

The taunts kept coming and he fought for composure against every single one, taking a deep breath, forcing his eyes to linger on the demon's face and not look away, even as the words cut deep into him, threatened to expose his fear, his vulnerability.

"You've got one chance. One," he started, his voice tight, anger welling up in his chest, bubbling just under the surface, fighting to get past his forced calm exterior. "Tell me who's killing the angels. I want a name."

He could feel it all building inside of him; fear… of actually going through with it, of what this could do to his already fragile grip on reality; desire… to cut, to see the pain and suffering on Alastair's face; delight… that he knew he would feel as he sliced into all that skin before him; pleasure…coursing through him as he made his prisoner scream and beg and plead for his life.

He wasn't sure which he wanted more: to get the hell out of there, flee from the part of him that was going to enjoy this and tell Cas where to shove it; or to pick up that knife and get to work, lose himself in the familiarity of it, the rush of fulfilment, of exhilaration, he knew it would bring.

I've been looking up to you since I was four, Dean. Studying you, trying to be just like my big brother.

Out of nowhere, Sam's words flooded his mind and his heartbeat sped up in response.

God… Sammy…what was this going to do to him? What would he think of his big brother if he could see him now?

He shook his head against it. He couldn't let thoughts distract him, get the better of him, in front of Alastair. He wouldn't give the demon the satisfaction of seeing his fear. He ignored the words spilling from Alastair's mouth, pulled his lips into a cold smile, kept his tone calm and even as he spoke, not betraying the anger and the fear he felt.

"How about for all the things I did to your… daddy?"

But when that word, the one word guaranteed to cause as much pain as possible, spilled from Alastair's lips, slowly and calculated, he almost lost it. A jolt of pain sliced his gut and he lifted his head, teeth grinding together, jaw twitching with barely-restrained hatred and anger.

Not his father.

How dare the sonofabitch mention his father?

He couldn't even think of John right now, couldn't think of the disappointment that would surely have been in his eyes if he'd been here to see this, to see what his son had become.

"I had your pop on my rack for close to a century," came the taunt, cunning and deliberate.

"You can't stall forever," he bit out harshly; nausea suddenly welled up in his throat and he forced it down, refusing to picture his dad in the same position he'd been in not so long ago.

"John Winchester."

Dean's jaw tightened at the sound of the name spilling from the demon's lips, the nausea turning to rage again, simmering quietly under his skin, flesh prickling with its heat.

"Made a good name for himself," Alastair continued conversationally, almost contemplatively. "A hundred years." He gave a wistful sigh. "After each session, I'd…I'd make him the same offer I made you. I'd put down my blade if he picked one up."

No, no. He couldn't listen to this. Couldn't get distracted. Couldn't let Alastair see how it affected him.

"Just give me the demon's name, Alastair," he said quickly, anything to shift the attention.

"But he said nein each and every time." Another sigh. "Oh, damned if I couldn't break him."

He tried to tune it out, even as the rasping words cut right into him, but it was no use. All he could do was let the words keep hitting him as he shrugged his jacket off as casually as he could, and placed it on the cart.

Enough was enough. It was time to get down to business.

"Pulled out all the stops, but John, he was, well, made of something unique," Alastair continued, words like poison, things he knew would get Dean right in the gut, would play on his emotions, on his guilt complex.

Dean knew the tricks, had endured them for thirty years after all, had used them himself again and again for the next ten.

"The stuff of heroes."

He looked down, knowing that Alastair was watching him, gauging his every reaction; knowing that he was barely containing the pain he felt at hearing a word he'd used to describe himself on occasion.

Who was he kidding? He was no hero. Heroes didn't torture others to stop their own pain, didn't enjoy inflicting the horrors they'd endured onto other people, innocent or not.

"And then came Dean." The demon's tone was almost weary; and he turned towards it for a second before remembering where he was and instead lifted a bottle of whisky to his lips, downing a large gulp. "Dean Winchester. I thought I was up against it again."

It was getting harder and harder to ignore, to pretend it wasn't getting to him.

"But daddy's little girl, he broke. He broke in thirty." Alastair jeered gleefully. "Oh, just not the man your daddy wanted you to be, huh, Dean?"

Careful movements betraying the feelings of fear, of inadequacy that the words brought with them, the weaknesses that Alastair was deliberately playing on, he placed the bottle back down on the cart. The demon knew exactly what to say to get to him, to play on his shortcomings, and as much as he hated to admit it, it was working. His father was a weakness for him, always had been; he'd never felt like he was good enough for John Winchester, never felt like he could live up to expectation.

He'd always internalised those feelings, spent his whole life keeping them hidden, never admitting them, not even to Sammy, and now, to hear these things coming from Alastair's mouth, the words hanging in the air like a cloud of noxious gas, it felt like his insides were being ripped open, every insecurity, every fear, spilling out onto the floor, just waiting to be trampled on.

His father had never been one for emotional outbursts or declarations of love, especially when it came to Dean, and so the second the words 'You did good' and 'I'm proud of you' spilled from his father's lips that day in the cabin, he'd known immediately that it couldn't have been him, that Yellow-Eyes had to have been possessing him, because John Winchester would never have told him that. Not like that. Not just… out of nowhere. Not unless someone was dying… not unless it was the last time he'd ever see him.

"Now." The grating voice continued, the demon knowing he was hitting the mark. "Now we're getting somewhere."

Dean tuned out the voice as best he could, setting his jaw and picking up a jigger, filling it with holy water.

"Holy water? Come on. Grasshopper, you're gonna have to get creative to impress me."

In Hell he'd dreamed. For thirty years, he'd wanted to rip Alastair apart piece by piece, had dreamed of it again and again, picturing in exquisite detail exactly what he would do to the demon if he ever got his hands on him. The dreams had been twisted… vivid visions of pain and torture intermingled with memories of his childhood; images of sharp metal slicing into smooth skin, alternating with snapshots of boyhood games with Sammy and chasing girls in high school; feelings of delight and exhilaration as he carved, merging with glimpses of what could have been, of desire and excitement as he lost himself in someone he loved, someone who only existed in his dreams. And now… now that the monster was tied and bound before him, now that he finally had the chance to make parts of those dreams a reality, he wasn't going to let the moment pass.

"You know something, Alastair?" he started, turning towards the devil's trap again, keeping his voice light, almost satisfied. "I could still dream. Even in hell. And over and over and over, you know what I dreamt? I dreamt of this moment."

He picked up the needle, the need for revenge, for torture, overriding the voice in his head that was screaming for him to stop, to put the needle down and walk away, get out before it was too late; the voice of a young, naïve, idealistic version of himself, one who still believed he was a good person.

"And believe me, I got a few ideas."

Trying not to let his hand shake, he drew holy water into the syringe, heartbeat pounding in his ears as he watched the air pockets bubble inside. He felt powerful, triumphant, body thrumming with anticipation as he strode towards the demon, slowly, purposefully, sizing his captive up, before coming to a stop in front of him.

"Let's get started."

He could feel his pleasure in the torture, head spinning as he cut into skin, heady with the control it gave him, nerves tingling, shivers running down his spine. It was a rush, almost better than sex… and it was something he hated to admit to, wouldn't ever admit to his little brother, or to anyone else for that matter. He didn't want to acknowledge what the feeling meant; it made him afraid; afraid that it meant he was becoming something else, something less than human; a monster.

But as he looked into the taunting eyes of his victim, saw the provocation in them, urging him to back down, to surrender, he lost himself in the need for revenge, the enjoyment of it humming through his veins. He ignored the jabs and jibes coming from the demon, even as they wormed their way inside him, worked at weakening his defences with calculated precision, and concentrated instead on inflicting as much pain as possible.

He reached for Ruby's knife, held it up, turned it over in his hands, thought about what he was going to do with it. He ignored Alastair's scoff as he drizzled holy water over the glinting blade.

"Do you really think this is gonna fix you? Give you closure?"

Tuned out the words, refusing to acknowledge them as he strode back to face his prisoner.

"That is sad. That's really sad. Sad, sad."

The craving for torture, for revenge intensified, making his vision swim, his heart stutter, his breath speed up, and for a moment, he just stared at the demon… before plunging the knife into his skin. The sound of flesh ripping, sizzling as the blade slid smoothly into skin, sent a jolt of desire through him, a flash of pure pleasure, radiating through his body from his head, to his heart, his stomach down to his groin.

He couldn't go back now. He'd had that taste and now he wanted more. He craved it. Needed it.

"I… carved… you…. into a new animal, Dean." The words came out slowly, forcefully, pushing against pain. "There is no going back."

"Maybe you're right," Dean acknowledged, letting his lips curl up in a chilling smile, face taught with barely restrained emotion as he took pleasure in having the upper hand. "But now it's my turn to carve."

He twisted the knife, the sound of it tearing into flesh sending shivers of satisfaction down his spine, as Alastair screamed in pain.

"Who's murdering the angels?" he demanded through gritted teeth, eyes drawn to the holy water sizzling on the demon's skin, a thread of satisfaction weaving its way through his veins, twisting around the fear he felt, giving him the false strength he needed to get through this. His lips curled up in a humourless, twisted smile as Alastair gargled and choked on it, blood spilling from his mouth.

He concentrated on the anger, on the much-needed release this was giving him, pushing down the fear that was knotting his stomach. He hardened himself against the vulnerabilities he knew were just beneath the surface, letting the desire to hurt, to cause pain, overtake him instead. His eyes narrowed as Alastair spat out water mixed with blood and spoke again.

"You're just not getting deep enough."

Oh, I'm getting plenty deep enough, he countered in his mind, even as he was unsure whether it was simply a statement of fact or if he was trying to convince himself of it.

"Well, you lack the resources."

I'll show you resources, you sonofabitch.

"Reality is just, I don't know, too concrete up here." The words rang true for a moment, and he turned slightly, dead eyes glancing over his victim, before he turned back to the cart "Honestly, Dean..."

He tried to ignore it, to not let it affect him as he poured salt into a bag in preparation for the next round, but it was no good. Alastair was getting right under his skin and he surely knew it. The demon had always known exactly what to say to cause Dean maximum pain and this was no exception.

"You have no idea how bad it really was."

Unable to stop them, his eyes turned in the direction of the trap once more, the container of salt dropping to the table as something undefinable curled in his belly.

"And what you really did for us."

No, he wasn't going to let this happen, wasn't going to let the demon get to him, get the better of him, play on his weaknesses. He couldn't listen to it.

"Shut up." The words were barely more than a whisper.

"The whole bloody thing, Dean." Alastair's voice held something unidentifiable, something almost gleeful; eyes hooded, jaw set, he moved towards Alastair again, refusing to acknowledge the seeds of doubt that were beginning to unfurl inside of him. "The reason Lilith wanted you there in the first place."

A sickening thought began to filter through his mind, growing with every second. He clamped down on it hard.


No. He was not listening to this. He couldn't.

The bastard was not going to get the upper hand here, was not going to turn the tables on him.

"Well, then," he ground out, stepping right up to the trap and grabbing the demon's chin, feeling the scratchy stubble, the clammy skin, sticky with blood, as salt poured down its throat. "I'll just make you shut up."

Alastair gagged and choked against the combination of salt and blood, but Dean just stood there, not even a foot away, watching, triumphant pleasure curling inside him; it should have sickened him, the fact that he was enjoying this so much, that he'd fallen back into this role so damn easily, and a tiny part of him wanted to gag, wanted to yell and scream at himself for what he was doing, what he was letting himself become, but the power he was feeling, the power he had over Alastair right now, was too intoxicating, too… exhilarating to stop.

"Something caught in my throat," rasped Alastair. "I think it's my throat."

"Mmm…well, strap in," said Dean, a smug, satisfied half-smile tugging at his lips, "'cause I'm just starting to have fun."

He turned back to the cart, dropping the bag on the surface and reached for the jug again.

"You know, it was supposed to be your father."

His stomach dropped.

What was supposed to be his father? Not…? He couldn't even think the words, couldn't make them real. His heart was pounding, his hands shaking as he poured more holy water into the chalice, fought to keep his expression neutral. As much as he longed to, he couldn't ignore the demon's words, couldn't tune out, couldn't stop them from infiltrating his chest and twisting around his heart in an iron-like grip.

"He was supposed to bring it on. But, in the end, it was you."

His stomach twisted painfully, a horrible thought piercing through his mind. A thought too horrifying that he clamped down on it immediately. But it was out there now, question begging to be asked.

"Bring what on?"

Damnit. He cursed under his breath, unable stop the words from slipping out.

The demon didn't answer, just kept on talking. "Oh, every night, the same offer, remember? Same as your father."

His father… there it was again.

He couldn't breathe, fear intensifying now; fear of what might come out of Alastair's mouth next, fear of learning something that would shatter him forever, fear that whatever Alastair's point was, it would break him once and for all and he would never be the same again. He'd just begun to deal with what he'd done in hell, accept that he hadn't had a choice, that he'd only done what had been necessary to survive; he'd just begun to find himself again, to believe that he could make amends for what he'd done, make things right, and the thought of losing that forever scared him shitless.

Pushed the fear as far down as he could, focused on the task at hand as he held out Ruby's knife, shaking salt onto the blade.

"And finally you said, 'Sign me up.'" Dean closed his eyes as the memory resurfaced; the triumphant look in Alastair's eyes when he'd finally relented, the overwhelming relief he'd felt when, after so many years of being strong, of resisting temptation, of not breaking, he'd finally said yes.

He remembered that moment with more clarity than anything else from his time in hell. The moment he couldn't take it anymore and finally broke. It had been both the best and worst decision of his life. It had meant leaving his old self behind forever, it had meant becoming something he hated; but the relief he'd felt when the torture had finally come to an end had been so immense it had completely outweighed everything else. And finally being able to dish out some of that endless pain, to take out his anger and hatred on someone else… it had been so cathartic, that power building inside him, the feeling of control it gave him, that it had been a welcome release. And then he'd begun to enjoy it, to draw pleasure from bringing pain to others, and that had been it, he was hooked… he'd never wanted to stop.

"Oh, the first time you picked up my razor," continued Alastair, his voice flowing over him like silk. "The first time you sliced into that weeping bitch..."

Dean turned to face the monster once more, refusing to let his emotions show.

"That was the first seal."

And just like that, his blood ran cold, as if doused in ice-cold water.

No. No. Not happening. Couldn't be. It was a lie; had to be. Just pushing him, getting under his skin. No. Wasn't him. Couldn't have been. He wouldn't. Couldn't. Wasn't him. He saved people, stopped apocalypses. No. No.

Steeling himself, he forced a neutral expression, pushed down the horrid emotions churning inside him and stepped even closer, getting right in the demon's face. He couldn't show fear, couldn't show weakness. Not now.

"You're lying," he muttered through gritted teeth, lips curled up in a humourless smile. Unsure whether he was stating it as fact, or was simply trying to convince himself

"'And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell.'" Dean swallowed audibly at the words, not willing to accept them. But Alastair just kept going, his voice, his words, cutting into him like a knife sliding through butter. "'As he breaks, so shall it break.'"

He turned away, the nausea returning, causing him to gag. His vision swam as the meaning of the words sank in.

He froze, fearful that any movement would break him.

He swallowed.


"We had to break the first seal before any others."

Silently willing it to stop.

"Only way to get the dominoes to fall, right?"

Wanting to be anywhere else but here.

"Topple the one at the front of the line."

But it was out there now, seared into his brain. Alastair was telling the truth; he could feel it in his gut, couldn't deny it any longer.

Fuck, what had he done?

"When we win," said Alastair slowly, drawing the words out, inflicting as much pain with them as he could. "When we bring on the apocalypse and burn this earth down… we'll owe it all to you, Dean Winchester."

His eyes slide shut, jaw clenching, praying that it couldn't really be true.

As if Alastair sensed his denial, he added, "Believe me, son, I wouldn't lie about this. It's kind of a religious sort of thing with me."

"No," Dean managed, his voice rough, choked with emotion, panic rising steadily inside him. "I don't think you are lying. But even if the demons do win..." He looked down at the knife in his hand, feeling the weight, anticipating the feeling of watching it slide into warm flesh again. "…You won't be there to see it."

He turned around, steeled, ready, prepared to strike…


His eyes widened in shock.


Alastair was no longer chained to the cross, no longer bound inside the devil's trap. He was right there in front of him, barely a foot away.

"You should talk to your plumber about the pipes."

The demon smiled evilly, before striking with a hard punch, sending him crashing to the floor. He didn't fight back, didn't defend himself, just let the demon pound him into the ground. What did he care anyway, he was no match for Alastair and it wasn't like he didn't deserve it.

He started the apocalypse for fuck's sake. He was the worst kind of human being in existence, not even worth trying to save. He should just get it over with and let Alastair kill him.

When he came to, found himself in a hospital bed, in so much pain he could barely put together a coherent thought, he found himself wishing Alastair had finished the job. As the memories came back, filtering through his mind, a wave of shame washed over him. He shouldn't even be alive, not after what he'd done. He hadn't been worth saving; he was single-handedly responsible for starting the apocalypse, for setting the wheels in motion to bring hell on Earth. Why the hell would the angels raise him from hell after that?

"Are you all right?"

The words, loud in the quiet of the room, startled him and he turned his head to find Castiel sitting beside the bed, staring up at the ceiling. His eyes narrowed, fury starting to swirl in his stomach at the sight of the angel. This was all his fault, Castiel had been the one to seek him out, to insist he torture Alastair, even when he knew how it would affect him, what it would mean for him to go through with it, to find out the truth about what he'd really done. He opened his mouth slightly, planning on telling the angel exactly where to stick his concern, but just the effort of breathing caused pain to shoot through his chest, and he couldn't muster the energy to do it. Instead, he looked away, his voice coming out scratchy and drained. He watched him for a moment, memories of what the angel had forced him to do fresh in his mind. before he turned away, emotionally drained.

"No thanks to you."

"You need to be more careful." It was not the answer he was expecting and the fury suddenly lurched upward, burning inside him, making his ribs ache and his head pound. And the damned painkillers they'd given him were doing nothing to ease the discomfort.

"You need to learn how to manage a damn devil's trap," he ground out, then swallowed against the pulsing pain the effort caused.

"That's not what I mean." Castiel's tone was softer now, more serious. "Uriel is dead."

His eyes flicked to the angel again, not expecting that. "Was it the demons?"

"It was disobedience." Castiel turned his head to him. "He was working against us."

Cas was looking at him like that should mean something, but what the hell did he care that the dick had disobeyed? He'd brought on the friggin' apocalypse, for fuck's sake.

"Is it true? Did I break the first seal?" He didn't want to say it, acknowledge it, but he had to know; even as his heart was breaking inside at the thought. "Did I start all this?"


And with that one word, it all came crashing down.

When it had been Alastair, he could pretend that it was a lie; demons lied, after all. Even when he knew deep down in his gut that it had been true, he hadn't been willing to really believe it.

Not until now.

Not until it had been confirmed by an angel

He could feel tears pricking his eyes, a lump forming in his throat and he swallowed, fighting against the emotions swirling around inside him, fighting for dominance. Guilt, disappointment, shame, anger, fear, anxiety… all of it merging together, threatening to come to a head, to spill over the edge, to destroy him completely.

"When we discovered Lilith's plan for you, we laid siege to hell…"

His mind was racing now, everything jumbled up inside. He couldn't make sense of it.

But it was true, that much he knew.

"…and we fought our way to get to you before you—"

"Jump-started the apocalypse." His voice broke as he said the words, confirmed them aloud, acknowledged and took responsibility for what he had done.

"And we were too late."

It was too much; he couldn't deal with this.

Didn't need to be reminded that he'd been too weak, that he had broken in thirty years when his father had held out for a hundred and had still not broken, that he hadn't been able hang on, to keep saying no long enough for the angels to get to him first.

And those ten years that had followed, when he was slicing and dicing and carving, when he was heady with the pleasure of it, arrogant with the power it gave him… what kind of sick monster did that make him?

Fuck, he'd spent all that time since he'd been back denying that he remembered, refusing to acknowledge what he'd done in hell, ragging on Sammy about Ruby and the demon blood… yet he was no better. In fact, he was worse. Sam believed that he was doing good, while Dean had known that what he was doing in hell was anything but good… and those actions, those poor choices, had brought on the apocalypse.

"Why didn't you just leave me there, then?"

"It's not blame that falls on you, Dean."

He swallowed again, not believing a word of it. Of course he was to blame for this; if it wasn't for him, none of this would be happening. Lilith wouldn't be breaking seals and the angels and demons wouldn't be fighting it out here on Earth.

"It's fate."

Fate? Yeah, fucking right.

"The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it." Castiel looked to him seriously. "You have to stop it."

No. No. That wasn't right. Not him. No friggin' way.

He stared at the angel with wide, shocked eyes. He could feel his heartbeat pounding in his ears; anger and pain and fear all merging into a ball of swirling emotion in his chest.

Sick. He felt sick.

He couldn't process this, couldn't make sense of what Castiel was telling him, what this meant. He couldn't breathe, his chest tight like it was being crushed, held captive under the pressure, the enormity, the responsibility Cas was pinning on him. He wasn't a strong person, he wasn't righteous; he was just Dean Winchester, screw-up son and hypocritical big brother.

Nothing special.

Just a man.

Unable to stop it, a single, lone tear wound its way down his cheek.

"Lucifer?" It was barely more than a whisper. "The apocalypse? What does that mean?"

When the angel didn't reply, just looked away, the fear manifested as anger and something inside him snapped.

"Hey! Don't you go disappearing on me, you sonofabitch." His voice cracked, becoming throaty and choked. "What does that mean?"

"I don't know."

"Bull!" he countered immediately, his voice getting stronger, the anger intensifying.

"I don't," the angel insisted. "Dean, they don't tell me much." He paused, looking at Dean intently. "I know our fate rests with you."

He stared ahead for a moment, jaw twitching as he fought against the advancing tears, willing them not to fall. He couldn't do this, couldn't have the fate of the world resting in his hands. He was too weak. He couldn't deal with it, couldn't deal with that kind of responsibility, couldn't handle all that pressure on him. He just wasn't strong enough for it.

"Well, then you guys are screwed." He was on the verge of more tears now, his tone revealing the internal struggle, the fear and pain and confusion. "I can't do it, Cas. It's too big."

He wasn't a good person anymore, maybe he never had been; he certainly wasn't strong enough, or brave enough to save the world.

He wasn't himself anymore… not since…

"Alastair was right. I'm not all here." His voice cracked again as he forced the words out. "I'm not str…I'm not strong enough."

Castiel turned to look at him, sympathy in his eyes.

He wanted to lash out at the angel; he didn't want sympathy, didn't need it. Didn't need to be reminded that he was a failure, that he was broken, that he wasn't a hero after all. That everything he believed in all his life, everything he thought himself to be, was a lie. He had never been worthy of his father when John had been alive, and now he'd managed to fail him in death as well.

All the slack he'd given Sammy over the years, about rebelling against Dad, about abandoning the family, about Jessica, and his psychic dreams, his powers, the demon blood, screwing a demon, all of it… it was just meaningless now. Because Sam wasn't the bad one, he wasn't the black sheep of the family; no, that was Dean.

John had known the truth about Sam all along, yet he had still loved him, had still been proud of him, had checked up on him at Stanford whenever he could, had told Dean to save him.

He had done everything he could to please his father, to gain his respect and approval; he'd believed he was the good son, that he was saving lives, doing good, saving the world… but all he'd done was destroy it.

He'd brought on the apocalypse.

He was a monster, just like the demons he hunted.

He'd let his father down in the worst possible way.

He'd let Sammy down.

He'd let his mom down.

He looked away, jaw trembling as he finally let go. "Well, I guess I'm not the man either of our dads wanted me to be." He paused, licked his lips. "Find someone else. It's not me."

His eyes closed and the tears finally began to fall.

…I'm so proud of you, son

... been looking up to you my whole life, Dean…

… your mother would have been proud, too…

… you're my big brother, I would do anything for you…

…so proud of you…