Wait and See

Old Habits Die Hard

Old habits die hard.

A string of people die suspiciously in a hotel just down the highway from Bobby's house. The article about the deaths attributes them to accidents due to improper maintenance and cites the bad wiring and odd air conditioning malfunctions.

It's been almost six months since the apocalypse, six months since Sam went to Hell and Bobby died. About five since Castiel seemingly sprung out of the ground. Dean is itching for a hunt.

He finally takes Sam's duffle out of the Impala, carefully unpacks it, puts everything in it into a drawer in the dresser in Bobby's rom and is ready to pack it full of Castiel's stuff when he realizes that they are staying in town. The hotel is only 20 minutes away. They could come home for dinner and then go back to hunting later.

He tosses a few changes of clothes, a toothbrush, and some deodorant into the bag anyway, just so he feels prepared.

He grabs Cas out of the yard where he's started tilling up the ground near the house for a garden and tosses him the duffle. Cas clearly recognizes it. He turns it over in his hands for a moment before he looks up, expectantly.

"Come on. Haunting at a hotel downtown."

Cas just nods and follows him out to the car.

It's a tame, straight-forward hunt. There's a ghost story consistent with death records and both are consistent with the spirit's MO. The graveyard is just outside of Sioux Falls. They run into another hunter- Greg Kilgerny, who is relieved to find out that someone is in the old Singer house, and seems to equate this with someone like Bobby being back in the mix. He gives Dean and Cas a couple of dangerous amulets to lock away somewhere safe. Cas wraps them carefully in a worn and over bleached towel.

They go out for a burger while they wait for dark to fall so they can go torch the body. When they go back to the hotel to double check that everything went over as planned it turns out that the hotel owner was in the middle of being attacked when they ghost went up in flames. Her name is Chelsea. She's grateful. And hot. And she gives Dean her number.

He and Cas are on their way home before midnight, Cas sitting with his legs drawn up to his chest, looking small and tired.

"You alright, man?" Dean asks as they pull back into their yard.

"Yes, Dean. Fine."

"You sure? Cause you don't seem like the Happy Chef of ghost flambé." Dean asks as they trudge into the house. He sets his guns out on table and starts to clean them.

Cas drops onto the couch. "What's flambé?"

"You know, I don't actually know. It's something you set on fire. What's wrong?" Dean sets a few guns out for Cas to clean as well.

"I don't want to be a Hunter," Cas says. His voice is quiet and grave, as though he is admitting to some horrifically depraved crime.

"Oh," Dean replies.

Cas curls back up and closes his eyes. "I was a soldier for so long, Dean. Forever. Literally. And I have all those memories, compressed into this skull where they don't fit right and sometimes I can't think around them. It's been too long an eternity. I don't… I can't fight anymore. I'm something different now and I can't add more pain and fear into that mess. I'm so sorry."

"No, that's fine. I mean… you don't have to."

"You want to go back to it. You miss it." Cas settles further down into the couch, like he's going to go to sleep.

Dean doesn't know what to say, so he doesn't say anything. Cas doesn't move or open his eyes. Dean keeps takes apart the next pistol. "No. Whatever. We don't have to hunt."

Cas lets out a sigh that Dean could swear sounds disappointed. "Dean, this is what you are."

The anger flares up suddenly. Like a struck match. Dean is angrier than he's been in months. He bites it down before he replies, because he's not angry at Cas, but it takes a while to bring the rage down.

"No, Cas," He says eventually. Cas looks over at him, as though surprised the conversation is still going. "This is what my father made me."

Cas doesn't reply, just keeps looking at Dean, his bright blue eyes soft, but focused. Quietly paying attention as Dean realizes that he's started digging and he can't stop until he's done.

"He treated us like we'd enlisted into his revenge quest. I was making sawed offs when I was nine. I was sixteen years old, helping him kill monsters while everyone else was in school. I wouldn't even have gotten a GED if Sam hadn't pushed for it. And nothing I did was good enough. Ever. Never a clean enough shot, never a quick enough reaction. We could never be happy, it was always our responsibility to make sure everyone was safe first and we never could." Dean finishes cleaning the gun and starts disassembling the next with trembling hands. He keeps his eyes on his work, he knows Cas is watching him and he can't bring himself to look at the former Angel's expression right now, not when Dean can't stop talking and Cas just admitted that he has millennia upon millennia of the same thing Dean is bitching about experiencing for a handful of years, so much of it that it clogs his mind up.

"And always: Watch out for Sammy! Watch out for Sammy, watchoutforsammy watchoutforsammy. Because he wouldn't. We weren't important enough for him to watch out for. And I did watch out for Sam. I taught him to walk. I taught him to talk. I used to steal toys for him. I taught him how to talk to girls. I was supposed to keep him from finding out about monsters when Dad couldn't hide the journal or the trunkful of salt. You know what Dad taught him? How to shoot. How to hold a knife. How to drink whiskey. And every time Sam talked back, or ran off, it was my fault. Cause I wasn't raising him well enough." The pieces of the gun fall from Dean's hands and he wipes a hand over his mouth.

They don't talk about Sam. Dean never mentions him and Cas, who originally tried to be comforting, has realized that Dean can't talk about him yet.

"I umm… I can't let people get killed. Like that Chelsea chick. I can go out and save people. I do have to do that. But maybe… maybe I don't have to be running all over the country sacrificing absolutely everything to do it."

Cas sits up. "Maybe we've lost enough."

Dean chokes, trying to cough or sneeze or do anything to cover up the fact that he's crying. Trying not to outright sob.

Cas scoots over on the couch, and hugs Dean.

It's not a consoling hug. It's not a "hope it gets better hug". It's the way you hug someone when they're back from the dead. It's the way you hug someone when you are so glad that they are there, and so glad that they are alive and it pushes Dean over the edge.

Not for long. He gets a hold of himself pretty quickly, but he lets himself slip for just that moment, because this is Cas. He's seen Cas at his absolute weakest, and if Cas sees him the same way the world won't end.

He clears his throat. "Okay, man. Come on. Enough with the chick flick moment."

But Cas just replies, "I don't know what the means," and doesn't let him go.


Dean didn't realize that Cas was such a manipulative bastard. He probably didn't used to be, but Dean supposes that he rubs off on people.

He and Cas wind up at the little movie theater near their house later in the week. Just in time to see Chelsea. The hotel manager. Just walking into a 5:00 pm showing of some random comedy. Like you do.

Cas has been quiet and strangely focused all day. He's been working in his garden, which is probably the only garden with mugwort planted all around the petunias because "They look nice like that". He suggested the movie because he'd been working all day and wanted to do something relaxing and fun.

That's when Dean should have suspected that something was up. Cas doesn't really like movies, and he definitely doesn't find them relaxing. The whole ruse falls suddenly into place when Cas spots Chelsea at the door and waves her over.

He then shoots Dean a deeply smug look and as soon and Chelsea has walked over to them declares that he's tired and has changed his mind and he'll just walk home. He practically skips out of the theater.

"Your friend's not subtle, is he?" Chelsea asks. She sounds shy, a little tentative. Very aware that Cas invited her and Dean didn't.

It's only been… maybe a week? A little over a week tops since they ran into Chelsea. Dean had been planning to call, but he and Cas have been busy. They've been making safe boxes and researching what kind of herbs they should have readily available in the garden. Dean's been calling everyone in Bobby and Ellen's books, checking in on whose still alive and if anyone's seeing anything weird. Cas was part right, hunting is what Dean is, but that doesn't mean he has to go out and rack up even more of exactly the kind of issues that Cas was talking about. They can do this. They have given enough. They're trying to become a sort of headquarters, so that they can be hunters without actually hunting.

"Well…" Dean shrugs. "He's… his hearts in the right place but his brain is a little… scrambled. Subtlety is not really something he's good at."

"Oh…" Chelsea looks uncomfortable. Dean feels bad.

He shrugs and clears this throat, and then realizes that Chelsea knows what he and Cas do. She knows about ghosts.

He decides to try something that he's never tried with a woman before. Honesty. Not crazy honesty. There's just no point in trying to tell her that Cas used to be an Angel of the Lord. That was a stretch for him, it's going to be a straight up bitch to get Chelsea to believe him.

"Yeah… he's just… we've got a rough gig. "

Chelsea bites her lip. "Did something… happen to him?"

"A lot of things happened to him."

"So you guys… hunt ghosts together. Ghosts are real. That is not something I expected to learn about the world this week. Ghosts are real. Still getting over that one."

She's got a beautiful smile, all teeth and laugh lines. She looks genuinely happy when she smiles, Dean notices.

"Yeah. So are vampires, zombies, werewolves, demons, changelings. Sometimes you run into weird stuff."

Chelsea laughs uncertainly. "There's weirder stuff than zombies?"

"Uh yeah… zombies are pretty run of the mill. You get stuff like ghost sickness, hoodoo curses, mad scientists who find ways to live forever. There was a manic depressive man sized teddy bear one time."

Chelsea nods again, her deep brown eyes looking a little glazed over.

"Big foot's a hoax." Dean feels like this is all diarrhea of the mouth. You don't go out on a date with the grateful girl, you take her up to one of the rooms of her mediocre hotel, you rock her world, you enjoy yourself, you kiss her goodbye, you get behind the wheel.

She laughs. "Well, clearly. Otherwise what kind of crazy world would be living in?"

Dean laughs back. He has no idea what he's doing. He feels like all his joints are attached wrong. Like his feet and hands are too big and he might knock something over if he tries to move.

"You know… I didn't really want to see this movie."

Dean nods and steps back. That's what honesty gets you. "Yeah… that's… uh… Fair enough."

She bite her lip and looks up at him from under her dishwater blonde bangs. "I was actually thinking that I might go for a walk," Chelsea continues. "And now that it turns out there all these monsters out there, I was hoping you'd come along. You know. To protect me." She gives him a smile that is just a little bit mocking.

Now Dean really doesn't know what to do with himself. That could be genuine, 'let's go talk and walk' or the 'let's go get it on in the back of the Impala' which would put him on more comfortable ground. "Oh. Yeah. Right. I could do that."

They walk. They talk. They tell each other about their lives. Chelsea talks about her business and her family- three sisters, all older. Dean talks about hunting and taking care of Cas and growing up on the road. He tells more stories than she does. She seems interested, but Dean's not sure how much of it she really believes.

It's a bizarre experience. Dean has never been himself with a woman. There have been a couple of girls- not so different from Chelsea- saw the ghost, saw him hunt it, saw them naked, saw him leave town, but even then he's still usually the guy from his fake ID and always at least "Dean Winchester: The Guy Who Just Saved You From Certain Death" and never "Dean Winchester: Alcoholic Dropout With Zero Real World Skills"

"So… What happened to Sam, if you don't mind me asking." Chelsea inquires carefully as their walk takes them back around to the movie theater.

Dean stops. He and Cas have been researching ways to save Sam every night for months, but talking about Sam, in the way of "Remember when Sam…" or "The time when Sam…" had been off the table. Sam only stopped being an utterly forbidden subject in the last week. Cas was awake in the afternoons more often now. He had found sitcom reruns useful for understanding the world. He like "Three's Company" but Dean was doubtful that he understood a damn word of it. He had also discovered talk shows. He had patiently explained to Dean, in a mixture of Angel and Doctor Phil, that it was unhealthy for them not to acknowledge that they missed Sam and that Sam was a hero and his name should be spoken aloud.

The moratorium on Sam stories had been lifted. A strict ban on talk shows had been immediately set in place.

"He… I'd really rather not talk about it. He's… ummm."

"Oh," Chelsea sets her hand to Dean's back. "I'm sorry. Forget I said anything."

"Sorry. It's a rough gig. That's why we're retiring."

""You and Cas?"

"We both uh… need someone to watch over us, I guess."

They're weaving around the parking lot when Chelsea stops next to a silver Prius. Dean doesn't realize that it's her car until she starts digging out her keys.

"This was a nice night, Dean," she says quietly.

"Yeah, it was."

She sets her hand at his elbow, leans up and kisses him, just one soft press of her lips to his. "Tell Cas thanks for the date. Hope I see you again."

Dean's not sure what to think as he watches her drive away. He had a nice night. But he can tell that it's not so much about Chelsea, who is fun and beautiful and apparently, incredibly understanding, and more about the fact that he just had a night different than any other in his life. He spent a pleasant night of conversation, with someone other than Sam or Cas, he didn't kill anything and he didn't pretend to be anyone else.

He just feels weird.


"Did you enjoy the movie?" Cas asks when Dean walks into the living room. He's sitting on the couch eating what looks like an entire bowl of the weird green fruit with all the seeds in it that he'd turned out to love. He's grinning at Dean in a way that could be classified as wicked.

"What's with the Parent Trap, Cas?" Dean sighs.

Cas lowers his eyebrows. "What's the-"

"The set up. The sting operation. Why?"

Cas shrugs and takes a huge bite from his bowl. "I think you need more companionship."

"I need more companionship?"

"Yes. And she liked you." Cas chews contemplatively. "Are you mad at me?"

Dean wants to be. Not yelling mad, just… a little mad. But he isn't. And he doesn't really want to investigate why that is.

"No. I'm not mad," He walks past Cas, slapping the side of his head, just a little, as he walks past. "Pull that shit again though and you will eat that fucking Mugwort."

He hears Cas snort at that, and Dean goes up to bed.


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