Don’t tell me this is the first time that Dean doesn’t know what to say because it’s all just too much and he doesn’t want to overwhelm people.
Don’t tell me that last season, after Amara ripped Lucifer from Cas’ body, Dean didn’t feel too much. He was so worried about Cas since he learned he was possessed. He was so broken in 11x18 when he couldn’t get Cas back. He was so desperate to save Cas that even Sam had to comfort him a couple of times. And when Cas was back, Dean felt so much relief that he couldn’t help give a tiny smile in 11x23 when Cas said that Lucifer was gone.
It was all too much, but Dean still needed to make sure Cas was OK. The sun was freaking dying, the world was ending, but Dean wanted to make a run and talk to Cas, say something, because Dean knew Cas had said yes to Lucifer, Dean knew Cas would feel guilty, Dean knew Cas needed to hear that his help was appreciated, that HE was appreciated, that HE belonged with them.
BUT… don’t tell me Dean wasn’t trying to keep control over his emotions. Don’t tell me he wasn’t afraid of overwhelming Cas.
The two times Dean has told Cas “I need you”, he’s gotten rejected. He said it in Purgatory (8x02) and Cas decided to stay behind. He said in that crypt (in 8x17) and Cas decided to leave even though he’d already broken the connection with Naomi. That’s why Dean was so pissed in 8x22, because Cas didn’t trust him, because Cas chose to leave him. Whenever Dean has opened up his heart to Cas, Cas has decided to leave him.
Don’t tell me that in 11x23, when Dean said:
…but then backtracked and said, “You know, sometimes me and Sam have got so much going on that we forget about everyone else” wasn’t Dean trying not to overwhelm Cas. He went for the safe option, “me and Sam” because every time Dean has talked about what HE feels, Cas has left. He was afraid if he said “I need you” again or any other thing that made Cas know how important Cas is to Dean in particular, Cas might feel overwhelmed one more time. Don’t tell me Dean preferred to say nothing about his feelings, about how distressed he was when Cas was gone, and about how glad he was that Cas was back.
Don’t tell me this wasn’t Dean trying to act normal even though he knew it was so not normal. Please don’t you dare miss the most important parts of Dean Winchester’s insecurities and abandonment issues. Please!