"You make me feel like I'm not good enough".

Damaged Goods

Dean trudged his way back through the bunker to his room, his whole body groaning at the effort that it was taking him to simply move one foot in front of the other. The instant he set foot inside of his room, he used his last remaining strength to step out of his shoes and jeans, and then collapsed on his bed, sinking into the sinfully soft memory foam.

He let out a low groan and managed to roll to his side to keep himself from suffocating.

And he was out.

He woke up a few hours later. Feeling like shit.

God, his whole body felt as though he'd been run over by a truck. He moved to sit up and quickly amended his statement: No, he'd been run over by a truck before…this was ten times worse. Unable to even make a noise, he collapsed back on the bed and reached over for the vicodin he kept stashed in his nightstand.

His fingers groped blindly in the drawer, but never hit upon the plastic bottle that held his relief, and he cursed out loud when he realized that Sam must have taken it earlier for his own injuries.

Trembling at the effort, he moved towards the bathroom, certain that he had another stash in the medicine cabinet.

But he didn't even make it five steps before he collapsed hard on the floor from the overwhelming pain and nausea that assaulted him. He thought about calling out for his brother, but then realized that he had no desire for Sam to see him like this. Yes, he'd seen him dead, but he'd never seen him incapacitated like a fucking child, and he had no desire to live through the humiliation, so he grit his teeth and bore the pain as best he could. The nausea indicated a concussion, which wasn't good. God, being a hunter sucked.

Finally, after several minutes of pain that nearly caused him to lose consciousness, he finally had the sense to gasp out, "Cas…"

Seconds later, the angel appeared in his doorway, and immediately rushed to his side.

"Dean, what's wrong? What happened?"

Dean reached out a hand.

"I could use some help getting up. Mind lending me a hand?"

Looking utterly confused, Castiel firmly gripped his hand and hauled him to his feet with barely any effort. Unable to prevent it, Dean fell into the angel's side, slumping over Cas's shoulder, attempting to keep himself from falling over a second time. Cas, realizing just how precarious Dean's balance actually was, moved his hand to Dean's waist.

Before Cas could ask, Dean muttered, "Bathroom," and Cas lead him to it.

As soon as Dean got one hand on the sink, he let go of his angel and reached for the medicine cabinet, fishing for the familiar orange and white plastic that held his relief.

Castiel stood in the doorway and said, in a perplexed tone, "You're hurt, Dean. Let me heal you," but the moment Cas stepped towards him, the hunter backed up, bracing himself against the solid porcelain of the sink and shook his head.

"No, Cas. Not necessary. It's not that bad. Nothing a little bit of vicodin can't fix, anyway," he added, and then looked once more at the cabinet…and let out a sigh of relief when he saw the bottle resting on the second to top shelf. Moving towards it, he managed to pull it down and, with shaking hands, mangled the top of the bottle. But then, as he went to shake out two pills, his hand shook more than he expected, causing half the bottle to spill into the sink, one or two pills falling down the drain.

"Fuck."

He reached down and salvaged what he could and then quickly swallowed one of the pills, washing it down with the stale tap water.

Castiel stood in the doorway, watching, his eyes dark as he said, "Why won't you let me do this for you, Dean? It is no trouble for me, I assure you." He stepped forward again, his hand raised, and Dean stepped back once more, this time tripping over the edge of the bathmat and landing hard on his ass on the lid of the toilet.

"Shit!" he hissed out, leaning slightly forward, adding a bruised tailbone to his list of injuries.

"Dean…"

The hunter glared at him, and then managed to muster up enough strength to stand back up on his own and shoulder past him back into his room, managing to sit carefully on the end of his bed without falling over. He gripped the comforter for a moment as his head swam, and then looked up at Cas, who still stood in the bathroom doorway, waiting for an explanation.

"Dean."

The tone was different this time, and Dean let out an exasperated and tired sigh.

"Dammit, Cas…fine. Fine! I'll tell you, but…but you have to not take it personal, alright? I mean it."

Blue eyes looked at him skeptically for a long, silent, moment, but then he nodded, and Dean spoke, carefully wording his explanation, knowing that Cas would most likely take it personal no matter what he said.

"Whenever you, you know, use your mojo on me, I feel like…well, like I'm cheating. I mean, other hunters don't get this, Cas! When they get bloodied up, sliced up, shot at, or whatever, they gotta do it the human way! The long way. And when you just pop in and heal us up like, like…well, like it's nothing, it just doesn't seem fair! I mean, why should we get a break? What makes us so freakin' damn special, huh? We're just a couple of fucked up brothers who keep on bringing about the end of the world, and…maybe we should suffer."

Cas said nothing.

The silence stretched longer than Dean was comfortable with, but just as he opened his mouth to speak, Cas cut him off.

"No. You shouldn't."

He said it with such conviction, that Dean looked up and found that Cas was only a few inches away. Without giving him time to move or protest, Cas touched his hand to Dean's shoulder, and Dean immediately felt everything dissipate, all of his aches and pains gone in an instant. And he was fucking furious. But before he could say a word, Cas turned away from him and began to speak.

"Dean, you and Sam, above everyone else, deserve this. You have seen so much more suffering and loss than anyone I have ever known." He turned and looked back at the hunter, blue eyes once more catching green, and his tone softened as he said, "You both have given up so much, not just for each other, but for more people than anyone else ever has, and that, if nothing else, deserves you some form of a reward. Some small comfort that can be given to ease your pain."

Dean stared at him, trying to respond.

"Cas, I…"

"I cannot heal minds or souls, Dean," he interrupted, almost angrily. "But I can at least do this. Please...let me."

Dean nodded, unsure of what to say to that, and stood up, suddenly very grateful that he was healed, because it allowed him the small comfort of reaching out and grasping Cas's shoulder without crying out in pain from an improperly relocated right shoulder.

"I get it, Cas…sorry, man…"

But the angel just shook his head.

"No, Dean. You don't." He then pulled away from Dean's hand and moved towards the door, but then suddenly stopped and said, "You and Sam…you have done much good for the world. More than most angels do in a thousand lifetimes." He brought his eyes up and leveled them with Dean's. "In my own existence, I have done more damage to humanity and my own kind than I can even comprehend. You claim that I am one of you, Dean…but I don't come close."

At this he pulled his eyes away and said, in a voice that the hunter could barely hear, "You make me feel like I'm not good enough."

Dean froze.

How…how the fuck could Cas think that? How could he ever…?

"You…you're fucking kidding me, right Cas?" Castiel said nothing, so Dean plowed through, determined to have it out once and for all. He was not going to let his angel think that he was not good enough. "Cas, in case you don't remember, I tried to kill you the first time we met. Hell, I told you, to your face, that I didn't even believe in God!" Cas said nothing. "Ever since you came into our lives, I now not only believe, man; I know that he's out there."

At this part, Cas's eyes widened, and he looked up so that he fully faced him as Dean began to rant.

"I know that you've fucked up, hell, Cas, we all have! Do you have any idea how many times I thought about bailing? Before you came along," Dean explained, "I was a wreck. Making deals left and right, not caring who else got hurt, so long as I had Sammy by my side, but when you showed up…things changed. I realized that I wanted to save more than just my family. I needed to save more than just my family."

He paused, carefully choosing his words.

"When…when you told me about what happened in Purgatory, about your choice to, oh, I don't know, atone and shit, I was pissed. You know why?"

Cas shook his head.

"Because it meant that you thought you were worse than any of us, Cas." He gestured widely and snarked, "Seriously? You think you own the patent on screwing over the world? Jesus, Cas, I was the one who opened the first fucking seal and set Lucifer out on the world! It wasn't really Sam's fault, and you and I both know it. That one was on me. You think you're not good enough? Hell, I still don't know why you thought that I was good enough to save from Hell in the first place, Cas! If anyone deserves to not feel good enough, it's me, and you and I both know it; my track record speaks for itself!"

Taking a deep breath, he stopped a second time and stared at Cas, whose body language had slowly relaxed. Cas gave him a long look, and for once it looked like he was seriously considering Dean's words. Dean waited, unsure of what the angel was going to say.

Finally, he spoke.

"It seems we're at an impasse, Dean." A faint smile appeared on the corner of his mouth as he said, "We're both competing for the title of, essentially, who's the most miserable."

Not expecting humor from Cas in the slightest, Dean stared at him in shock for a moment…and then let out a choked laugh, and said, "Seems to me like we're both just huge ass messes, man. I mean…can you blame us? Life's not exactly been handing us lemons. More like throwing rocks at us, really."

He smirked back at Cas and the angel's smile widened.

"Then can we at least agree to never try and make each other feel miserable, Dean?"

The older Winchester nodded.

"Yeah, Cas. I think I can manage that."

Castiel smiled that time, and Dean felt something in his chest expand at the sight. He wasn't sure what the feeling was, but he knew that he liked it. God…whatever it was, it was sending a warm feeling down to his fingers, all the way to the base of his heels. He wasn't complaining, that was for sure.

They stared at each other a moment longer than was strictly necessary…hell, several moments longer than was necessary, but neither of them seemed to care.

Cas then gestured toward the door to the bedroom and said, "I should be going." He walked to the door and moved as if to leave, but then turned said, "Dean...thank you." The hunter shook his head, about to brush it off, but Cas cut him off. "I mean it, Dean. I came in here feeling that I was still atoning for everything I've ever done wrong, but you showed me that I don't have to because I already have. So…thank you."

Dean just nodded, completely thrown by the earnest honesty that he could hear in the angel's voice.

Finally, he managed to say, "Glad to help, Cas."

Cas smiled and Dean couldn't help but return it, albeit it was a bit more tense than Cas's, his jaw still clenched, but the sentiment was the same.

Cas left.

Dean stood there a moment longer…and then a soft smile appeared as he came to a silent decision. Cas was more than good enough, that he knew for certain. And he was going to prove it to him for as long as he could, even if it meant sacrificing a little bit more of his time.

He sat down on the edge of his bed and looked back at the door.

Cas was more than good enough.


A.N. - Written for the SPN Writing Challenge for the month of April...I HAD SO MUCH FUN WITH THIS! Hope that you enjoy it!