Dean met Naomi on his way out of the canteen.
“I hope you haven't forgotten our meeting today, Mr Winchester.”
He had. Shit.
Sitting in her office and fiddling with the ripped upholstery on his chair, Dean wished Naomi would say something more interesting, so he didn't have to keep thinking about what he'd done to Castiel.
“Look at you!”
“Who would want to be with you?”
Dean wondered if guilt could physically eat through one's intestines. It felt like it.
“Mr Winchester? Did you hear me?”
Crap, Naomi was still talking.
“Sorry, I zoned out for a bit. What did you say?”
“I asked whether you feel as if you have settled in at Balt's.”
Dean pretended to mull over it a bit, though it was hardly needed, giving that she asked the question three times a week. “Yeah, I reckon so. I know everyone by name, I've talked to most of them...”
“But do you feel settled?”
Dean doubted he ever would. “Yeah. I'm comfortable here.”
As Dean sat in the group meeting a few hours later, staring hard into his lap to avoid even a glimpse of Castiel, he admitted bitterly to himself that he'd really fucked up this time. The first mishap, when he was new and overwhelmed and angry, had been excusable. Castiel had forgiven him. Not this time. Dean was still angry, but he had no right to be; even less of a right to take it out on his only friend in the world.
Only friend in the world. The thought made Dean feel incredibly lonely, especially when he remembered that Castiel was now gone for good. Lisa was lovely, of course she was, but even Dean wasn't fool enough to think that whatever they had would last. They were like a short fuse, burning out far too quickly. It was just a matter of time.
Dean glanced at Kevin out of the corner of his eye. He'd been surprised when he'd entered to find the kid setting up chairs, even though they'd agreed to go around business as normal. Kevin was strong, Dean realised. Much stronger than he'd given him credit for. He still looked peaky, though.
Charlie seemed to have noticed as well. She interrupted their doctor in the middle of a sentence. “Kev, are you all right?”
Kevin stared at her like he'd never seen her before while he came to his senses. “What? Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Didn't sleep much last night is all.”
“Okay.” Charlie fiddled with her bright hair, something she only did when she was uncomfortable (which wasn't often).
Dean felt despair when he looked around their small circle and saw how subdued everyone was compared to how they'd been when he met them. Kevin looked utterly drained, Charlie was shrunken in on herself, Chuck hadn't said a single word, and Castiel...well. Dean didn't really want to see what Castiel looked like.
“We're really not going anywhere with this, are we?” Kevin finally said, the absence of his normal rueful smile painfully noticeable.
They all helped him pack away in silence, then walked their separate ways. Charlie went to the rec room, Kevin went to the staff wing, and Chuck, Castiel and Dean sloped back to their respective rooms. Dean wished he and Castiel were on opposite sides of the building. The man was walking right behind him, and Dean could feel his eyes on the back of his neck, blaming him, hating him.
He suddenly had to fight tears. He was ridiculous.
He stepped into his room and shut
the door too quietly. He fell face down onto his bed, any tears
greedily soaked up by the pillow, and tumbled into a sleep filled
with gasps of memory-dreams.
Dean was ripped awake by a gentle knock on the door.
“Cas?” he called blearily, forgetting.
“No, just me, I'm afraid,” Lisa called from the other side of the door. “Can I come in?”
Dean grunted his approval and re-buried his face in his pillow. Lisa peeked around the door.
“You're looking great today,” she told him brightly. “Now eat.”
Dean looked up, confused. Sure enough, Lisa was holding a plate with a sandwich on it. It looked like cheese and pickle.
“Where did you get that?”
“Ellen made it up. She's worried about you too, you know.”
Lisa rolled her eyes and sat down in the chair. “Dean, you haven't eaten all day. You didn't eat that much last night, either.”
“Because you haven't eaten. Now eat.”
“No. Eat. I'm not above calling Castiel in to back me up.”
Dean rolled over and grabbed the sandwich. “You are way more trouble than you're worth,” he grumbled before he gingerly bit into it.
“I'll give you until you're in a better mood to apologise for that,” Lisa warned, crossing her arms.
A quick smile. “All is forgiven. Good?”
“Great. Now what's up?”
Dean looked at her warily. He swallowed his mouthful. “Nothing,” he lied.
“Bullcrap. You look ill, Dean, and twenty years older than you did a week ago. What's worrying you?”
Dean sighed, his eyelids suddenly feeling lime rocks despite his nap. “Everything.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just...everything. I'm tired, but I can't sleep for longer than a couple of hours. I'm worrying my ass off, but I can't do anything about it. And I just keep on fucking up!”
Lisa looked sympathetic. “Did you and Castiel fight again?”
Dean avoided her eyes. “No...yes...it was pretty much just me being a dick.”
“How much of a dick?”
“A big one. Unimaginably big.”
“You gonna apologise?”
“If you don't, you really will be a dick.”
“Yeah. I know.”
Lisa stood there a few moments
longer before she sighed and walked out of the door. Dean lay back on
his pillow and tried to return to the land of dreams, even if it
wasn't very pleasant. But his thoughts were inconsolable, forever
lamenting over his failings and berating him for his uselessness and
eventually he gave up and exited the room.
Crowley looked up in surprise when Dean entered his infirmary without knocking.
“Hello there, George,” he said. “Didn't expect to see you back here for a while. Obviously you have less sense than I thought. What did you break this time?”
Dean shook his head tiredly. “Nothing. Thought I might ask if you needed any help.”
Crowley raised a sceptical brow. “You want to help? What happened to the claims of illegal slave-driving and so on and so forth?” Dean didn't answer, and Crowley didn't push it. “Well, I suppose the floor could do with a sweep. The broom's in the –”
About halfway through scrubbing the sink down much more thoroughly than it needed, Dean vowed to himself that he would apologise to Castiel the next morning. Even he wasn't socially retarded enough to suffer this for his pride.
He would go and sit with him for breakfast, Dean planned. Nothing dramatic, just sit down, say hello and immediately out with it. He'd been an utter cock. He was sorry. Forgive him one more time?
Dean smiled. That's what he would do.
He never did.