It had been a big hunt. It has also been a long time since Dean and I worked with other hunters. I can tell Dean really likes it. He likes being with other people. He bonds with them better than I do. Maybe at some point in my life, I was like that, too. But I don’t really do that anymore. After so many of my friends kept dying because they knew me, I stopped trying to make more. I guess isolating myself is something I have in common with Dad.
Dean and his new friends decided to go drinking tonight. I told Dean I didn’t mind being the DD. He asked me if I was sure out of courtesy, but I could tell he was excited. So now I’m sitting at a booth watching my brother get wasted with people he somehow bonded with faster than I ever could. It isn’t a bad time. The food isn’t completely tasteless. The bar isn’t totally trash. But I’d rather be back at a motel.
“Is Dean intoxicated?”
I jump. Cas is sitting across from me. He’s looking at Dean and his buddies with a frown.
“Yeah. Those guys helped us in the hunt today. They offered to buy drinks.”
“And you didn’t want any?” The angel looks at me.
I shrug. “I’m driving.”
“You could always call a taxi.”
I don’t know why he needs to justify me getting drunk. “I wanted to hang out, but I didn’t feel like getting wasted.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you.”
I guess I let more emotion show in my voice than I meant to. It’s been a long day. I’m tired. At least, that’s the excuse I’m telling myself for letting Cas read me so easily.
“I’ve just never seen you do anything like this even when Dean does it,” Cas continues.
“I’ve never seen you do it either,” I retort.
Cas glances back at the group of hunters. “I suppose it’s not my idea of a good time.”
“I agree,” I say. “I like doing things that won’t be painful in the morning. Hunting already does enough of that.”
“Dean doesn’t seem to think so.”
“He’s doing it so he’ll forget hunting for now.” My honesty surprises even me. Dean would kill me if I knew I just said that.
Cas sighs. “Dean’s coping mechanisms seem to be more unhealthy than yours.”
I frown. “My coping mechanisms? Like what?”
“You overwork yourself and blame yourself for not saving everyone, even though that task is impossible.”
I want to deny it. I want to argue with him. But he’s right. And I hate it. How does he know? No one has ever put it into words, so it feels like a slap in the face. I know I do these things, but I never recognized how they can be summed up so easily.
But I do believe I am to blame for every person we failed to save. There are always signs, and I’m too slow to catch them in time. Not to mention how many people I killed by not exorcising demons and just using the knife. Or how many people died because I drank demon blood and released the actual Devil into the world. The writing on the wall was so obvious for that one. I know I can do better. I have to. All those dead people—
I blink back to the present.
Again, Cas manages to read me when I don’t want him to. “Nothing.”
He stares at me intently. “You can’t blame yourself for the people you didn’t save, Sam.”
“Yes, I can!” I exclaim. “Every time it’s something I should’ve seen coming!” Why am I shouting?
“That’s not true. Some events are only clear once you see their outcomes.”
“What about the Apocalypse? You and Dean were being pretty straightforward with me then.”
“Sam, that was years ago. Dean and I have forgiven you.”
“So? Does that change the fact I led thousands of people to their deaths?” My heart is pounding in my ears, and the shame I’ve been trying to push down for years is bubbling out and seeping into our conversation.
“That wasn’t you. You didn’t kill them.”
“I might as well!” Tears blur my vision. Dammit. How did I become so upset over this? I don’t want Cas to see me like this, and I don’t want to be having this conversation at all.
The angel stares at me again. He stands up and comes to my side of the booth and sits down next to me. I instinctively scoot away. He’s so close.
“Why do you keep blaming yourself?” he asks softly.
I can’t look at him. “Because it is my fault, Cas! If it wasn’t for me, so many people would be alive!” My voice is still loud. I know we’ve probably caught some people’s attention, but I can’t seem to calm down.
“A lot more would be dead without you.”
“Really? Because I managed to kill a lot. A lot more than I think I’ve ever saved and probably ever will.” My heated gaze lands on him. I know he can see the unshed tears in my eyes, but his demeanor doesn’t change.
“You weren’t killing those people, Sam.”
“But I caused it all to happen!” Why is he being so kind to me after everything I’ve done?
“You were deceived by a demon.”
“So? Dean was telling me it was a bad idea from the start, and I still didn’t listen.”
“Yes, that’s what deception is.”
The words are coming out of my mouth faster than I can stop them. “Why are you standing up for me? You know what I’ve done.”
“That’s why I’m standing up for you. You’re a good man, Sam. You’re better than any angel I’ve known. Do you really think so lowly of yourself?”
I look away, blinking back tears. I hate this. Why are we even talking about this? I just want him to drop it. Nothing he can say will change my mind, no matter how badly I want to. I once believed I was a good person. Now…I don’t even know what to think.
Cas put his hand on my arm. His eyes stare straight into mine. “I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t mean it,” he says.
I can’t stand this anymore. I want to be doing anything else. I want to be anywhere else. “I want to leave.” I say it faster than the thought fully forms in my mind. I think Cas doesn’t hear me, because he continues to stare at me. I open my mouth to repeat myself when he stands to let me out of the booth. He doesn’t say anything as I stand up, but he follows me outside. We get to the Impala.
“I’m just going to take a quick drive,” I say. I won’t look at him.
He surges forward and wraps his arms around me before I can react. I don’t think Cas has ever initiated a hug before. Especially with me.
I timidly hug him back. “Thanks,” I say quietly. The word slips out.
Telling these things to Cas...made me feel something. Not really better, but like a weight has lifted from my chest. Dean doesn’t like to talk about his feelings, which is fine, but that’s how I manage. I rarely do that. I know talking to Cas helped despite how painful it feels. It didn’t even change how I feel, but it did help to finally talk about it.
Cas pulls away. “I’m always here for you.”
I shamefully wipe some tears off my face. “I know.”
“Then call for me when you need me.”
I look up at him. I nod. “I will. ...This was helpful.”
He smiles sadly. “Good. Maybe one day you can finally forgive yourself.”
“That would be nice.”