Summary: Set between seasons 5 and 6, Dean has moved in with Lisa and Ben but he's barely keeping it together. Actually, in between creeping paranoia and his frequent nightmares, he's pretty sure he's losing it. But when an angel shows up, Dean isn't sure if he should be pissed off or thankful that he's got one last hunt.

Author's Note:This story has a bit of swearing and is undoubtedly a little spoilery for seasons 5 and 6. It's also the first story I've ever posted so please be gentle with me. I always wondered what went on with Dean for that entire year he was on his own so I wrote my own version. Hope you like it. More chapters to come if anyone is interested.

Required disclaimer: Unfortunately I own nothing though if anyone ever cared to give me the rights to Supernatural I wouldn't turn it down.


You Can't Get There From Here

Chapter 1

Dean sat in the backyard, beer in hand, and listened to the birds chirp. He'd long ago finished raking up leaves, mowing the last patches of grass that had bothered to grow so late in the Fall. Lisa and Ben were still out. He couldn't even remember where they'd gone. Had he been listening? Maybe not.

He took a quick swig from the bottle before clasping it between both hands. He stared at the soft ground beneath his feet.

It was peaceful here. Quiet. Fucking birds singing and squirrels playing hide and seek with the acorns falling from the oak trees. So why did he feel like he was drowning?

He sighed again, finishing off his beer, and setting the empty bottle beside his boot. He'd get rid of it later.

Dean wasn't a praying man. Never had been. But every once in a while he caught himself in the middle of one, half formed pleas dying before they were quite uttered. This was one of those times.

Maybe it was considered blasphemous to pray to one angel in particular and not God Himself. Then again, when had God ever bothered to answer his prayer? Never. That was when. Dean had always figured it was better not to ask than be ignored but sometimes he just couldn't help it.

At least he caught himself before he said a word aloud this time.

Cas.

Can you hear me?

Dean cracked an eye and looked around in anticipation. But he was disappointed. Again.

I'm serious, Cas. I just wanna talk for a few minutes. Can't take much more of this shit.

He knew it was useless but he kept on silently praying, unable to stop the flow now that he'd started.

I haven't been on a hunt in months, not since Sam... Because I promised. But I don't know how much longer I can do this. Almost shot the neighbor's poodle the other day. I mean, it was an accident, but the thing ran at me and I was drunk and that little yapper really should've been on a leash…

Dean ran a hand through his hair and surged to his feet, snagging his empty bottle from the ground as he went.

"Screw this. Probably not listening anyway."

He trudged back into the house, depositing the bottle into the recycling bin so Lisa wouldn't get on him about it later.

As if on cue, a car pulled into the driveway and Dean found himself outside yet again, greeting Ben and Lisa as they climbed out of the car. He waved and put a smile on his face, playing the part. It was easier when they were around. He forgot to feel quite so alone. It was harder to imagine the screams in Hell when they were smiling at him, making him feel like a real person.

For a moment, he was the man he pretended to be. Kind. Thoughtful. A hard worker. Caring father figure. He was the guy who bought his woman flowers for their anniversary and took his adopted son to school in the morning. He was normal. Average. Just like everyone else.

For a moment, he could believe it was all true.

For that moment, he wasn't a hunter anymore.

He just was.

This time, Dean snapped out of the moment much too soon.

Lisa saw the smile drop off his face. She stepped forward and put a hand on his arm. "Something wrong?" she asked in a low voice, casting a glance at Ben as she spoke.

But Dean just laughed and rubbed the back of his neck, trying to rub away the feeling that he was being watched. "Nah. Everything's fine."

She looked less than convinced but let it slide, turning her attention back to Ben and the bags in her hands as they walked into the house together.


Dean had taken to falling asleep on the couch.

When asked, he blamed it on too much fresh air and not enough quality primetime programming.

Things had been hectic at work. Just the way he liked it. Kept his mind busy. Kept it occupied. It also made him the kind of bone tired that kept him from slipping out of the house some night to look for trouble.

He'd resisted the urge for months now.

At first, he'd been too drunk, out of his mind with grief, to do much. It was a miracle he managed to hold it together long enough to drive to Lisa's house. But when he stepped foot over the threshold his control had snapped. There wasn't enough liquor in the world to help him forget. That's when the praying had really started.

Dean found himself on the floor one night, the house silent around him. Lisa and Ben must have gone to sleep but Dean couldn't say for sure. The night was hot, sweltering despite the air conditioning. He could feel it down into his bones. And he'd known what he wanted to do.

That night Dean had torn the house apart looking for his gun. He needed it. He wanted it. He had to see what it would feel like to press it against his head and pull the trigger. Dean wondered if that would earn him an all expenses paid trip to where Sam was.

But he couldn't find it.

He couldn't find any of it. Not a gun or a knife. Nothing. It was like he'd ceased to exist.

Dean kept searching long after his energy gave out, head pounding, eyes blurred. He'd stumbled around the house, bouncing off of walls and furniture that he could barely see. He fell and dragged himself back to his feet. Over and over again he'd repeated it like some kind of horrible interpretive dance. The fifth time he fell, he stayed on the floor, rolling onto his back and imagining that the sky was over his head instead of a plain white ceiling. If he squinted just right maybe he would find himself sitting on the Impala with Sam beside him, staring at the stars. He called Sam's name but he didn't get an answer so he tried again. And again. His throat was hoarse before he heard footsteps.

But it wasn't Sam.

Not tall enough.

Through blurred eyes, Dean watched the approach of someone in a trailing coat and he almost smiled. "Cas!" he called. "I can't find Sam. Help me find him, Cas."

Wrong again.

Lisa dropped to the floor beside him, pulling his head into her lap and brushing away tears he hadn't even known were there. When they were gone he could finally see her. Not Cas.

She cooed to him, shushing him like she would a baby and Dean let her. He flexed his hands. If he'd wanted to he could have snapped her neck. Did she even realize? Did she know what his hands had done over the years? What they could still do?

"I need help, Cas," Dean moaned, words slurring as he closed his eyes. "Where are you? I need help. Please help me."

That was the first night he prayed but it wasn't the last.

It almost didn't matter that he never received an answer.

But months had given Dean time to consider. To regain his strength. It had given him time to learn how to pretend like he wasn't dying a little more each day. He thought he had Ben fooled. Lisa was another story.

Dean knew she saw the twitch of his hand when he was startled. She saw the way his shoulders still rode up as he checked for exits and weapons that he didn't carry anymore. And she knew about the nightmares. Liquor did fuck all to stop them.

So Dean did what he could. He stayed up past the point of exhaustion and passed out on the couch. It worked. To an extent.

Unfortunately it wasn't working tonight.

Dean knew he was dreaming at the beginning but that didn't matter. Dream. Reality. It was all the same when the lights went out.

Sam was on the rack tonight, a long gash already carved out of his side. Like meat on a spit, ready to serve. Fresh meat. Dean wasn't surprised to see the razor in his own hands. Somewhere Alastair was laughing at him. He was sure of it. Such potential. Squandered. And yet here he was again, night after night with blood on his hands.

The second cut was easier than the first. He could almost enjoy Sam's gasp of pain as he struggled. Blood trickled from Dean's hands like water as he sliced deeper, carving his future out of his own brother's flesh.

"Dean."

He paused. Not a voice he'd been expecting. Not here.

"Stop it, Dean."

"You wait your turn." Dean bent lower over the rack, fingering the red edge of the blade in his hand, ignoring the presence behind him. It was everywhere. Behind. Above. In front. Like high beams in his eyes, it was distracting.

Dean readied himself for the next cut. Sam moaned. Soon he would be choking on his own blood. This is where it would start to feel good. Dean was good at this. Alastair told him so.

"Dean!" A firm hand fell on his shoulder.

He sat up with a muffled cry. The sky was still dark outside. He stared into the blue glow of an infomercial on the TV screen. The sound was turned down, leaving the host to gesture in silence like a ghost hawking kitchen appliances.

The dream was already fading, just not quickly enough. Dean dropped his head into shaking hands and wondered if it was too early to get ready for work.