(yes, more angst. i love to suffer.)
He’s seeing him again. Everywhere.
Back when he was fresh from Purgatory he couldn’t be sure that what he was seeing was even real, but he knows now that this is not.
Well, except that it is, in a way. Shimmering blue light in the distance, not grace but something else entirely. Real as the far-off twinkle of the stars, beautiful and unreachable in all the same ways. He stares for a very long time into the burning center of wisping shapes, cold and familiar. The heavy expression fixed on the face is endlessly unnerving, like the eyes see right through Dean and into the fabric of the world behind him. Dean always ends up turning his eyes down in shame. Out of grief that he’ll never get to move past.
He bundles himself up in jackets like he had when he was young and just as scared and alone as he feels right now. Swimming in them because of all the weight he’s lost. Not on purpose, it just… happened that way. The joints in his hands stick and crack when he cleans his guns. He takes up smoking again just to get some warmth back in his chest.
We could make this go away, Sam tries to tell him. Dean won’t have it. The chill in his bones is a comfort, and he’ll fight to keep it even if it ends up freezing him from the inside out.
Them in the passenger seat again together. The Impala’s chassis doesn’t balance out the way that it does when there’s two people in there, leaning on the turns and squealing in the wheels, but he can still pretend. He hangs an elbow out the open window and taps his cigarette out onto the oil-slick asphalt. He keeps his eyes straight ahead when they pull up to a red light. He shivers and fights the urge to turn his head, stare into dead eyes.
Dean tried to talk, the first few times. But there’s just not enough of him left to dredge up an answer, Sam thinks, not even the affectionate syllable of a name. There’s not much they can do about that, but Dean loses sleep over it anyway.
It’s Dean’s curse to be haunted by what he wants and loves. Ghosts, sometimes, they’re not tied to things. They’re tied to the people that hold too tightly to them.