Dean was not aware for how long he sat on the floor beside Kevin's body. The shock and enormity of everything that had happened, everything, had been too much for the hunter to process. The scale of just how much he had lost his remaining family, all in the course of one day, it numbed him to the point that Dean withdrew completely into his mind and became catatonic.
The sight of Kevin's body, charred eye-sockets still staring at him with silent accusation, faded away into blackness as all outward stimulation ceased to exist for Dean from that moment. The darkness and chaos in his mind consumed him fully.
With more savagery than his experiences in Purgatory and more malevolence than what he had wielded on the innocent souls in Hell, it was the fatal combination of acceptance and acknowledgement that this was it. This was the bed he had made and now it was time to lie in it. Time to accept that everything had been the consequence of his own actions and decisions.
Every good deed he had ever performed was wiped from his memory. He and he alone had been responsible for the death, and sub-sequential murder, of Kevin. A Prophet of the Lord, a brother who was… had been… just a kid. Someone who had deserved so much more, more than what Dean had been able to give. Something that he was never going to get now. It haunted Dean that Kevin's last coherent thoughts and vision would have been of Sam… No an angel… Not-Zeke killing.
Deep inside his mind, Dean lay bound on a familiar vertical rack in a perfect memory-recall of the torture room of Alastair's in Hell. Slowly and painfully, he experienced being agonizingly stripped away piece by piece by every person he had ever failed and hurt.
The torture went on for hours, the mental pain and self-guilt tearing away every protective shield and wall that Dean had erected over the many years. His father had the honors of destroying the first few walls. Taking a pound of flesh for each time Dean had disappointed him. The list of people who took their pound of flesh from him was continuous. Joe, Ellen, Pamela… People who had died because of him… Each voice jeering and further poisoning Dean as they extracted their vengeance on him while Dean screamed on in agony.
It was only when Castiel, Kevin and Sam simultaneously appeared together in front of Dean that the hunter finally spoke. Moaning quietly, heart-broken, he whispered, "I'm…I'm s-sorry." All three men turned to each other with blank expressions before turning back to face Dean.
"How could you have allowed this to happen Dean?" Castiel growled, accusation clear in his gravelly voice.
"I had always trusted you, and look at where it's landed me! I'm dead because of you!" Kevin screamed at Dean. The vision of Kevin suddenly melted into the gruesome visage of how he had looked at his death. His eyes disappeared in a burst of blinding light and Kevin disappeared with a loud scream, leaving only Castiel and Sam.
Dean felt tears stream down his cheeks, not making a single sound as the salty liquid fell into his open wounds. Stinging everywhere they trailed, Dean was unable to look away from the two stoic figures in front of him, Together they approached him and Dean knew with his failing grasp on his mind, that he was not going to survive what they were going to deliver unto him.
Dean's eyes slid over to rest on Castiel. The one who Dean had pushed away during the time the former-angel had needed him the most. They very person, angel and friend who had done nothing but try to help him despite everything he had gone through.
Yet Dean had done nothing but push him away, kowtowing to the threats of Not-Zeke, make Castiel feel unwanted. Lying to him and making himself into a hypocrite after having preached for years that there had never been any reason for there to be lying. That all he had to do was just talk to him if he had any problems because they were stronger together than apart.
Castiel meant to Dean…he meant…
As if tuning into his thought, Castiel suddenly stepped forward and tilted his head ever so slightly before his expression melted into a psychotic sneer. The visage of Castiel melted away and was replaced with the version of Castiel that Dean had desperately hoped would have never existed.
The man standing before him was the Castiel from 2014, who was now staring at him with a dismissive expression. "Past, present or future Dean, all you do is fuck everything up, " Castiel said, suddenly grinning madly and stretching his arms out widely. "Just look at meee!" he whooped, turning on the spot in a pirouette. As he finished the turn, Castiel suddenly ran forward and encroached in Dean's personal space, pressing his forehead hard against Dean's. Their eyes locked and Dean saw such bitterness and anger staring back at him that he could not help the small whimper that escaped his mouth.
"You should have stayed in Hell Dean," Castiel whispered. "You didn't deserve to be saved. The blood of millions of angels and humans are on your hands. Every living being that has died as a result of you making that deal. From that one decision, you brought forth the Apocalypse, sparked the catalyst that destroyed Heaven and the angels. Destroyed the very order of the supernatural for the worse and now you have brought forth the imminent end of humanity from oncoming war. I wish I had never laid my hands on you down in the Pit. You have tainted me in every worst way Dean."
Dean was weeping silently by the end when Castiel's voice trailed off, but he was not prepared for the agony when Castiel suddenly slammed his right hand into Dean's chest and ripped out his heart. His screams echoed off the black walls of his mind as Castiel carefully held the large beating heart with both hands.
"The Tin Man did not make it, because he had no heart…" Castiel whispered as he suddenly began to fade away into nothingness and disappeared.
By the time he was completely gone, Dean was still screaming but eventually stopped when his vocal chords stopped working. But the pain lessened as Sam stepped forward and grabbed Dean's chin, forcing the hunter to look at him. Dean stared at the vision of his younger brother for what seemed like forever. Neither spoke until Sam finally sighed and punched Dean once on the side of his face, hard.
"You should have just let me die Dean. How could you have done this to me? Essentially rape my body and mind when you knew exactly what I had gone through when Lucifer had possessed me. And for what Dean?! So you wouldn't be alone? That you are so unhealthily co-dependent that you did the one thing you know that I would never have been able to forgive? To be so freaking selfish that you backed yourself into this corner that there would be no escaping and you would have ended up alone anyway?! You could have at least have let me die with some dignity! I would have shut the gates of Hell and Abbadon would have had no army! But now Dean, now you have doomed the entire goddamn planet! All because you have it in your head that I am the only person on Earth who is able to put up with you because no one else will," Sam sneered, an awful smile spreading on his face as his eyes flashed black. Dean let out a garbled groan of dismay at seeing Sam demonic again.
"Not even Cas wanted to stay with you after what you did to him. Did it ever occur to your Dean that I find you to be nothing more than a clingy, pathetic excuse of a man? A man who is so ashamed of himself that his only real 'friends' are alcohol and pie because everyone else is dead."
Tears flowed freely as Dean felt everything begin to quiver around him. His mind beginning to fray apart and break down slowly, unable to hold up the words that plagued him or the guilt that was consuming him. But he was still able to focus on Sam's face as the vision of him still continued to talk.
"You saw for yourself in my Heaven that you weren't there. Not a single memory of you, at all. Why do you think that is?" Sam asked, taking a step back and crossing his arms with a clinical expression.
Dean struggled to form words, but he finally managed a dry croak, coughing up blood between each breath, "B-b-be-because…because y-you were hap-happiest when I wasn't there…"
Sam nodded once and sighed again, and replied with a sad softness in his voice, "I stayed with you for so long Dean because I knew that I would never truly be freed of you if I had left. Death is nothing to be feared Dean. We've met him for god's sake! Why couldn't you have just let me go?"
Dean hung his head in shame, unable to look at Sam anymore. He shut his eyes as Sam's voice filled the air with it's sad whisper, "I hope the reward is worth it Dean. There is now no one left… All because of you…"
Dean did not even flinch at the sudden contact of a hand that came to rest on what was left of his abdomen. Instead he opened his eyes and watched as Sam began to insert his arm through the torn flesh and deeper into his body. When his arm was elbow deep, blood slowly dribbling from the wound, Dean looked up at Sam blankly, wondering what he was searching for. He couldn't even find it within himself to care that Sam's eyes were no longer black.
"There's nothing in there Sammy," he whispered, finding that the outline of Sam was beginning to waver slightly.
Sam's arm finally stopped moving and he turned his head and looked at Dean with the utmost sadness. "No Dean, you're wrong," Sam replied, his lips turning down slightly as he suddenly clutched something deep inside Dean with a ferocious grip. Now Dean screamed.
The pain was like nothing he had ever felt before. He thrashed his body from side to side, his efforts to get away all in vain as the bindings on the rack held him firmly in place. He was not aware of anything except Sam as he began to pull his arm out of Dean's body.
Dean's screams worsened as inch by inch Sam's arm slowly moved. A loud, wet 'schlooping' noise was heard as Sam finally pulled his hand out, but as it happened a blinding white light erupted from Sam's giant hand.
Every sensation disappeared from Dean's body, he slumped heavily as he blearily tried to focus on whatever it was that was resting perfectly in Sam's hand. Cupping the mysterious, yet very small, bright light in both hands, Sam appeared transfixed with it. "Look Dean," he said, his voice filled with awe, "look at how bright your soul is…"
Dean's eyes dropped to the little ball of light. Half expecting to feel a warm fuzzy feeling, he was not surprised when none came. "It could twinkle like a star for all I care," he wheezed, "I still couldn't save you."
Compassion and sadness melted Sam's expression as his face softened. "Yet here it still is Dean, fighting and not giving up."
A cold, dark tendril of fear and suspicion suddenly laced through Dean as he narrowed his eyes and studied Sam. His expression hardened at the vision of his brother, now no longer blind to the sudden change in its behavior. "Who the hell are you?!"
Sam merely smiled sadly. "I am you Dean. This…" Sam began before glancing around at the blackness that had now eaten away half of the room, "this is all in your mind."
Dean chuckled darkly, immediately wincing in pain, " So…this is all in my head? Doesn't seem very Matrix-like to me…"
Sam huffed quietly, "Yeah, well… this whole thing is messed up…"
Dean coughed again and blood filled his mouth. Spitting it out with a grimace, he nodded towards his soul with an unsure expression. "What are you going to do with that?"
Looking downwards, Sam raised his eyebrows slightly as his lips twitched. "What do you want me to do with it?"
If Dean had the energy he would have rolled his eyes. His own damn mind couldn't be honest with him.
Looking at his soul, Dean's eyes glazed over with fresh tears. "I just want to fix things Sam… I don't even feel worthy to have such a shiny soul. How the hell is it so damn bright after all the shit things I've done?"
"The answer is simple then Dean," Sam answered. "All you have to do is fix this."
Dean could not help the bitter chuckle that erupted from his mouth, "Yeah, cause it'll be just that simple. So tell me then Yoda, what does a guy have to do to 'fix' this?"
"You need to kill me Dean."
Well that Dean hadn't been expecting to hear.
Shock and grief flooded Dean's face and voice, "You want to me what?!"
What made it worse was that Sam then proceeded to give Dean that oh-so-familiar near frustrated-near Bitch Face #3. It was the look that Sam had always used when he knew that Dean was not behind the eight ball in 'Sam's Logic'.
"Dean… I can't sugar-coat this, but you need to kill me because there is no-one else who can. I was meant to have died at the end of the third trial but you stopped me. That left me dying anyway as my body was beyond repair. Cas had told himself that he hadn't been able to heal me because the damage was down to a subatomic level. So there had been no hope for me at all. Not-Zeke had just used his Grace to keep my body from shutting. No healing, just a very good bluff to keep you in check. I was doomed from the start Dean, and the least you can do is to put me out of my misery so there isn't some friggin' angel parading me around as some trophy skin for whoever the hell they are working for. I want to be gone Dean. Heaven is a nice alternate for what is going on now. For all we know, I'm already gone from my body, but that angel can still control it. You owe me Dean!" Sam pleaded, his face tight with emotion.
Dean blinked slowly and studied Sam's face and time seemed to come to a complete standstill. The longer he stared, memories from long ago began to surface as the pain and guilt began to slowly fall away. Voices and visions from their childhood began to surround them. Times he had made Sam laugh, smile and be proud of him. Watching Sammy grow up before his very eyes. Happier memories for the both of them…
Something deep within Dean slowly came back to life as he blinked again only to realize it was his heart. The rack underneath him suddenly disappearing also and the hunter found himself standing steadily on his own two feet despite his injuries. He was now only a few feet from Sam as he also found that, somehow, he was breathing with no more pain. Tears spilled over unknowingly as he finally had the courage to approach Sam's figure, his soul still held safely in his brother's hands. An understanding he had never felt coursed through him with each heavy heartbeat.
Sam was right. It had been the wrong thing to do. Sam had been ready to die when Dean had intruded into Sam's mind during his coma. But after fighting for him so long, protecting and sacrificing everything for his little brother, the thought that Sam had been ready to leave him without even a goodbye, not even willing to fight to stay, had been unthinkable to Dean.
So he had taken the decision away from Sam and this is how it had turned out. Having to watch Cas and Charlie, then to have Kevin murdered in front of him by the angel he had trusted. All because he had been unable to let go of Sam…
Nodding once, defeated and ashamed tat everything had gotten so out of control because of him, Dean muttered, "I promise Sam, I'll hunt this son of a bitch down and you…" He choked as his throat tightened up with the next few words, "I'll… I'll let your go Sam. There's a war comin' man, a big one. I won't let them se you for some sorta 'weapon'. You… you don't deserve that."
A soft look of admiration passed Sam's face. "No, I don't…" he agreed quietly.
"How am I supposed to do this time?" Dean asked. "Where do I even start?"
Sam grinned, "How we always start Dean, research. Track him using my phone. There's a chance you can turn the GPS on and track him down. But you need to come up with some sort of pan to be able to go against an angel…"
Dean rubbed his chin thoughtfully, glad that part of him was still intact. Why the rest of him hadn't healed yet he had no idea, but the fact it was just himself in his mind he couldn't find it within himself to care about personal appearances. "I still have those few angel blades… I could melt them some down and make some bullets out of them. And there's Crowley…"
Sam looked at him with alarm, "You're gonna make a deal with him?!"
Sighing, Dean shook his head, "He is the only person we, I, have left. Cas is going off to prepare for this war with his stolen juice doing god knows what…" He suddenly stopped talking as a thought hit him.
Just how did Cas get another angel's Grace?
Cas had once told him how Metatron had stolen his Grace up in Heaven. 'So, maybe it worked the same way down here on Earth,' he mused silently as impossible thoughts began to circulate through his mind. Thoughts so terrible and wrong that it scared him. But as the idea began to rationalize itself in his mind, it was an option that was worth considering.
It went against everything he stood for, violating every moral code as a hunter and a human being.
With every passing second of silence, Sam was beginning to look at him with more fear and concern until he finally snapped. "No, Dean!" He quickly walked forward until he was right in front of his brother, looming over him with little effect. It was ruined by the fact the light bouncing off his face from the bright soul made him look like the Man in the Moon. But with ridiculously long hair.
Dean looked at Sam with sudden horror and anger as something terrible occurred to him. "Sam! If the angels are going after the Prophets, all potentials until this generation has been wiped out, I gotta find 'em! I can bring them back here! Keep them safe because someone doesn't want them to be able to read the Angel tablet! Some one who… is… SON OF A BITCH!" Dean roared as the dots finally connected for him.
"Sam it's Metatron! He ordered the hit on Kevin! The other potentials will be next! Not-Zeke already has a head start and who knows how close he already is to finding one! There might even be other angels helping! I failed Kevin and you, but I can't fail those people too when I can do something about it. There is something on that tablet that Metatron does not want us to see and I'll be damned if I don't find out what it is!"
Clapping his hands together, holding them towards Sam with pleading eyes, Dean begged, "I know what I need to do now Sam. I need to go find those people, Metatron needs to go down, I can help Crowley to deal with Abbadon when it comes to it, and Cas can rally the neutral angels to turn the tide with their war. I WILL find your body Sam and gank the dick in there. I can do this Sammy!"
A small sad smiled appeared on Sam's face, "You intend to go down fighting…" Dean did not reply and after a few minutes of silence, Sam nodded in acceptance. "Give Kevin a hunter's funeral…"
Before Dean could reply, he suddenly felt an encompassing warmth surround him as his soul was placed in his hands. The bright light began to pulsate and shine brighter with every seconds that Dean quickly found himself unable to look at it directly. Instead he focused on the now fading image of Sam who was now smiling at him proudly.
"We will meet again Dean," Sam said, raising a hand and placed it gently on Dean's shoulder. "Carry on, my wayward son…"
With a blink, Sam disappeared completely and Dean found himself to be completely alone. Confused as all hell as to why his own damn mind would quote Kansas to him, Dean shrugged and brought his hands up to his mouth. He paused as the comforting smell of pie wafted up his nose, causing him to finally have a reason to smile. For just a moment…
Shutting his eyes, Dean opened his mouth and shoved his soul inside. At the first touch of searing warmth on his tongue, Dean's eyes suddenly opened and he found himself back in reality. Safe but feeling different, yet he could not explain as to why or what it was.
The familiar surroundings of the Bunker still the same, yet his body felt as if it had had a few rounds with a wendigo. Stiff, sore, exhausted, dehydrated and starved, it was an awful smell and sticky sensation that caused Dean to look down and notice that his jeans were now stained with urine.
Grimacing slightly, he checked his watch and was horrified at just how much time had passed. But it was the familiar, yet strong smell of decomposition that caused Dean to finally steel himself before looking over at Kevin's still body. What he saw promptly caused Dean to be violently sick on the floor.
Hours later, after having finally eaten, became rehydrated and cleaned himself up, putting on fresh clothes and placing Kevin in a zipped body bag he had found several weeks ago whilst browsing through a random room in the Bunker, Dean had set himself the task of making a pyre.
He was already halfway there by having dragged a wooden table more than half a mile away into the woods until he had found a decent sized clearing. Dean worked well into the night, armed with a torch, knife and hand-gun, collecting wood until he was satisfied at the amount of wood he had collected. By the time morning had broken, the hunter had retrieved Kevin's body and had taken the former Prophet on his final journey.
Dean had not been surprised by how quickly the pyre had caught fire when he had lit it. His father had taught him well. The overwhelming smell of burning flesh was preferable to that of rotting meat. Dean positioned himself as close to the large flames as his pain threshold would allow without him actually being seriously burnt. The intense heat reminding Dean that he could still feel, that Kevin was not alone.
Remembering the tortured, despairing Kevin from his mind, tears began to well up in Dean's eyes. He did not say a word as he stood guard to the funeral pyre, yet his tears did not stop until the flames had finally burnt out. Where there was only warm embers and a large pile of ash.
Bowing his head, Dean sniffed and cleared his throat before finally speaking, "Good bye Kevin. I hope Heaven treats you better than what life ever did."
Glancing up at the cloudy sky, the colors a mixture of orange, pink and yellow from the approaching sunset, Dean brought his right hand up to his mouth he kissed his fingertips and formed the girl-scout hand gesture from 'The Hunger Games'. It had been the last film they had watched together and Dean had come to the conclusion during that viewing that he was Katniss and Kevin was his Rue.
Turning on the spot, Dean slowly trekked back through the woods back to the Bunker. Ignoring the empty pang in his stomach as he began to plan his next move, Dean began to think. His first thought, and instinct, was to call Cas. But the words the Cas in his mind had sneered, the grains of truth and knowledge that Cas was better off without him quickly locked away all temptation to call Cas and ask him to come back. No. He would not be able to go down that path. But he definitely was going to contact him once he had come up with a plan. No doubt the other angels had felt the death of Kevin in their own weird way and a new Prophet had been chosen.
At that thought, Dean stopped in his tracks as he realized that Cas would now know that Kevin had been killed. Immediately fetching out his phone, luckily the battery had not died while had been…out. Finding Cas' mobile number, Dean quickly began to write a simple message and he sent it with a heavier heart.
Cas, I have fucked up royally and have lied to you about everything. After the third trial, Sam was dying I tricked him into agreeing to having an angel, I had thought was Ezekiel, go into him cause I had been promised he could heal Sam. I was wrong and had been lied to as well. The angel has killed Kevin Cas, and walked out of the Bunker wearing Sam as his own personal skin. I'm convinced Metatron is behind it. I need you to promise me something man… For everything I have ever done to you, turning you away from the Bunker… just… everything… I am so sorry. I need you to know that. I think I've got a plan… One that should work, I hope... I have left the Bunker and have locked it up for safekeeping. I will contact you with my progress but if you don't hear from me… Look after yourself Cas. Please. Just do that for me. I will fix everything. I promise. –DW
The instant it was sent, Dean immediately turned off his phone and continued his walk. Hating that even praying to Cas was now out of the question. Something that had always been a comfort to him even after Cas had fallen. The only private connection to the angel that had meant more to him than he had ever let on. Now, on his own, Dean finally made his way back to the Bunker.