The next morning started much like any other for Dean. He woke up with a pounding headache, with near debilitating nausea, and emotions that he didn't want to think about churning in his stomach. He groaned and rolled over, wincing at the sunlight creeping in through the curtains.
"Morning." Sam called, a little too loudly from the other side of the room.
"Bite me." Dean grumbled, blearily opening his eyes.
"Your night was that good then?" Sam joked, and Dean winced, trying to remember what had happened.
He remembered drinking, a lot. Vodka and whiskey and beer and who knows what else he threw down his gullet. Pushing through the haze he remembered having some company, someone blonde and attractive. He smiled at the memory, knowing she had been hot, but paused when her face swam into his memory.
"Oh, god." He said, sitting up.
"What?" Sam asked. "What did you do?"
"Nothing." Dean said quickly. "Nothing at all." Not strictly true, of course, said a nagging sense of guilt. He had done something. "How'd I even get back?"
"You crashed in, completely drunk at about one. I think you got kicked out again."
"I don't even remember." Dean shook his head. "Musta been good, then."
Sam frowned, and shifted uncomfortably where he was standing. "Dude, do we need to talk about this?"
"Talk about what?" Dean asked, disinterested. He stumbled up and walked doggedly to the tap, getting a glass of water.
"About you drinking? Every night? All the damn time?" Sam shrugged. "When was the last time you woke up not hungover?"
"I don't have a problem, Sam." Dean told him stubbornly. "I'm fine. It's a hobby."
"A hobby?" Sam repeated in disbelief. "You need it to get through the day!"
"Yeah, Sam; maybe I do." Dean yelled angrily. "But in case you haven't noticed, our days aren't ordinary! With the amount of crap we have to deal with, I think it's acceptable that I like a drink at the end of the day."
"No; you like to completely forget the day at the end of it. Every day."
"Yeah, so?" Dean spat. "Our days are the type of days that would make most people run, screaming, for the hills. Do you blame me for wanting to get out of that?"
Sam blinked. "Dean..."
"Everything that happens to us is shit, Sammie." Dean sighed. "The people we get close to die; we keep dying, but we just can't get out of it. When do we get to be done?" Dean downed his glass of water, and poured another. "So for God's sake... let me drink."
Sam stayed silent for a few seconds, folding his arms. He knew nothing he could say right now could change Dean's opinion – his brother was endlessly stubborn, and right now, stuck in a rut. He didn't know what to do to get him out of it, other than watch and wait.
It was at times like this that he really missed Bobby.
"Fine." Sam finally said, sighing. "Whatever. Where's Cas?"
Dean blinked. "Weren't you watching him?"
"He just went out last night, vanished." Sam told him. "When you got in you were bitching about him, saying you'd seen him."
"Huh?" Dean winced, trying to remember, swimming again through the foggy memories.
"It's not safe for him out there." Sam said.
Dean's memories were clicking in to place, slowly. "He's human. Or will be. I remember."
"He told you?" Sam asked, and Dean looked round in annoyed surprise.
"No, I found out from someone else." Dean told him, the anger underlying his tone still there from last night. "But he seems to have told you. Isn't that swell?"
"He fell asleep, I had to ask." Sam told him. "He didn't know how to tell you. You didn't give him a hard time about it, did you?"
"Depends on what you think a hard time is." Dean stonily replied. "He deserved it."
"Is that what you think?" Sam shook his head.
"Yeah, that's what I think!" Dean cried. "After everything he's done!"
"Really? After everything?" Sam replied. "After dragging both our asses out of hell? Turning his back on his entire family, for you? Stopping the apocalypse? Dying? And now he's falling? Again!" Sam took a step towards his brother, too close, crowding him in anger. "What's really your problem, Dean? Is it that he made one mistake? Or is it that he didn't do what you wanted, just once?"
"You'd better shut the hell up, Sam."
"Or what, Dean? You gonna hit me? Is that gonna make you feel better?"
"Yeah, maybe." Dean growled back, his fingers twitching.
"Go ahead." Sam taunted. "Be the big man. You be Dad."
Dean's fist moved fast, aiming straight for his brother's jaw, but Sam was too fast. Swatting away the fist with his superior strength, he pushed Dean back against the counter, head slamming back against a cabinet as Sam caught him in a choke hold.
"Let go of me." Dean coughed out.
"Dad wouldn't let himself get close to people, either." Sam told him. "Dad would rather push me away than talk to me, and you are doing the exact same thing!" He pushed a little harder with his arm against Dean's throat, slightly choking him. "Don't you dare do that to Cas."
He pulled away, taking a few steps back, and Dean coughed, getting air back into his lungs. He glared at his brother, pride wounded at being so easily overpowered, which Sam ignored.
"Call him, now." Sam told him, sitting down. "Before he decides he's finally had enough of you."
Dean sighed, considering a witty retort, but quickly decided that with his head still thumping it was probably best not to rile up his brother any more.
"Fine." He huffed, standing slightly straighter, as if that had any influence over whether Cas would come when called.
"Cas." He spoke out loud. "Could you come here, please?"
The boys waited for him to appear. And they kept waiting.
Cas wasn't coming.