They’re at the veterinary clinic, and though Dean’s officially forgiven Sam for disgracing himself by having, of all things, a girlfriend, he can’t help but eye Amelia suspiciously as Sam passes out introductions.
“This is my brother, Dean,” Sam says eagerly and while Dean might be forced to shake Amelia’s hand he doesn’t have to like it.
“Thought you said your brother was dead,” Amelia says bluntly.
“Thought you told Sam your husband was dead,” Dean counters.
“Touche,” says Amelia grimly, and Dean’s got to give her credit for taking that hit square on the chin. ”But he’s out of the picture these days.”
Sam looks pained, but gamely continues, “And this is, uh- Dean?” Sam’s head swivels around, and Dean realizes that Cas has evaporated from his usual position by Dean’s shoulder. ”Where’d he go?” Sam asks, giving Dean an uncertain look that says Should we be worried? but before he can panic Dean catches a flash of tan trenchcoat down the hall.
Cas is in the waiting room, crouching on the floor and engaged in a staring contest with a large tabby cat.
“Cas?” says Dean, and when Cas fails to move he drops his hand on Cas’s shoulder. Cas has been blanking out more and more often these days, and every time he drifts off with that vacant, unblinking look Dean’s insides start churning with the awful sensation that something’s wrong.
“What’s up, man?” Dean asks quietly, and finally Cas looks up at him. “Sam was doing the whole introduction thing.”
“Oh,” says Cas absently. “Was I being rude? I’m sorry.”
Sam’s hovering by the door, shooting Dean a concerned look, but Amelia walks right up to Cas and kneels on the floor beside him.
“I see you’ve met our mascot,” she says to Cas, like it’s perfectly normal to sit on the floor with a strange dude and discuss cats, though Dean supposes that she is a vet and maybe this isn’t so far from normal for her after all. ”He’s a beast, I know, but he’s doesn’t mind being petted.”
Cas just looks at her with mournful eyes and says, “This cat is dying.”
“Since when are you a vet?” Dean asks impatiently. “Jesus, Cas, you really gotta work on your bedside manner.”
Amelia, bless her, doesn’t even blink. ”Yeah,” she says, and reaches out to scratch the giant cat behind the ears. “He’s got a tumor, and it’s too big for removal. Nothing we can do, I’m afraid. His owner never picked him up - guess they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to take care of an animal that was just going to die anyway.”
Amelia and Cas both stare at the cat in silence, and as Dean watches her face goes hard, edged with grief. ”Sometimes human beings are total dicks,” Amelia says, and bitterness laces through her voice.
Cas reaches out then, one finger extended, and gently touches the cat on the head.
“Don’t worry,” Cas says quietly. ”He’ll be all right now.”
Amelia looks at him, startled, and Cas meets her eyes and gives her a crooked, barely-there smile. Dean has to look away, then, and his throat aches suddenly, for no reason at all, but it occurs to him that it’s been a long time since he’s seen Cas smile, and he places his hand on Cas’s shoulder again and squeezes tight.
“Don’t get attached, Cas,” Dean says gruffly. ”There’s a strict no-animals-allowed-in-the-impala policy.”
Cas brushes his fingers lightly down the cat’s back, and the beast purrs quietly. ”Of course not, Dean,” he says, and stands up. ”It’s a very worthy profession, being a vet,” he says to Amelia.
Amelia’s smile is almost as crooked as Cas’s. ”You think so? Sometimes I wonder why I bother to care.”
“It’s always important to save lives,” Cas tells her.
“It’s the kind of job that’ll break your heart,” Amelia says quietly.
Cas stares out the window at the parking lot. ”What’s the point of having a heart if you don’t give it the chance to break?”
Dean wants to snort, wants to say dude, you sound like a Lifetime original, you gotta stop watching those flicks, but he can’t quite get the words out, and then Sam is at his side, looking at Amelia with an expression that Dean can’t quite place.
“She’s been through a lot,” Sam says, his voice low with sympathy, and Dean realizes with a start that Sam looks at Amelia the way he must look at Cas these days. The kind of look a you wear when you’re watching someone you love fall apart, knowing all the while there’s nothing you can say or do to help. “Do you like her?”
“Yeah, Sammy,” Dean says, and his younger brother lets out a quiet breath of relief. He manages a smile. ”You did good,” he adds, and Sam smiles back.