Author's Note: It was my birthday on the 23rd! I had planned to post this then but things got busy, so here we are, a few days later. But really, what better way to celebrate than to write some Sam angst? Set during season three so spoilers! Trigger warning: attempted suicide and suicidal ideation. If this bothers you, please do not read!
"Blame it on the weather, but I'm a mess
And this February darkness has me hating everyone
And I know I need your comfort, but this drama makes me sick
And the longer I lay here I know it's harder to get up without you."
—Silverstein, "Call It Karma"
Dean is going to die.
Sam knows this—has known this for what feels like an eternity. There's a clicking clock that chimes at the end of every day that he comes up with no solution to save his brother. He's running out of time.
Dean, of course, acts like nothing is wrong. He drags Sam to bars and drinks too much and sings Metallica loudly and off-key in the Impala. He flirts shamelessly with any beautiful girl that crosses their path and if Sam didn't know any better, it would almost seem like his brother is just living life to the fullest.
But Sam knows the truth—Dean is terrified to go to Hell.
Which means it's Sam turn to save his brother.
Sam just wishes he could figure out how to do that exactly.
He combs ancient books, searches through pages upon pages of lore about Hell and demons, but still, Sam cannot come up with anything. There's no loophole in the deal that he can find either.
"Sammy, c'mon," Dean tells him, pushing the laptop closed and tugging his brother away from his research, "You need to get some sleep."
Sam is tired, but there are more important things to do than sleep. Saving his brother from the fiery pits of Hell is his priority. Damn his health and wellbeing—if he can save Dean, any sacrifice would be worth it.
"Sam." Dean hardens his tone and it reminds Sam so much of John and it's funny, they've lost so much over the years but here they are, still breathing, still finding a reason to go on.
Without Dean, his reason will be gone.
"I'll save you," Sam whispers, meeting his brother's widened gaze, "You know that, right?"
Slowly, a smile spreads on Dean's lips and he nods, "Yeah, Sam. I know."
After all, the Winchesters either went out together or not at all.
But for tonight, Sam supposes a few hours of sleep wouldn't hurt.
Days turn into weeks and Sam still has nothing.
Dean is starting to become jumpier and more restless. He still won't admit how terrified he is, but Sam can see the horror etched onto his face whenever he wakes up in the morning, a lingering nightmare still torturing him.
Sam has been over the deal, combing it, looking for some way out. Sam's life in exchange for Dean's soul—those were the conditions. The only way to break it were if something were to happen to . . .
He wonders why he never put it together before. If Sam dies, the deal becomes invalid. It's so simple really. Dean was promised a year with his baby brother so if Sam weren't here—
Dean would be free.
Sam's head spins. His lungs tighten. The answer he's been searching for, it's been in front of him this whole time.
"Sam?" Dean is standing before him with a bag of food from the diner down the road. His older brother's brow is furrowed and he must sense the distress coming from Sam. He puts the bag on the table, "You okay?"
Dean would never let him go through with it. Dean wouldn't accept it. But Sam can't accept Dean going to Hell because of him. If this is the only way to save his brother, so be it.
So, Sam plasters a smile on his lips and lies, "Yeah, Dean. I'm fine."
And Dean is none the wiser.
Let's get something straight—Sam doesn't want to die.
Really, he doesn't. He has dreams and hopes for the future, goals that he wants to accomplish. The way he sees it though, he shouldn't be here right now. He died in Cold Oak. The fact that he was even still breathing now was due to a demon deal. Really, removing himself from the equation would just be setting things straight.
His father's voice echoes in his mind, "What's dead should stay dead."
John may have been wrong about a lot of things, but this wasn't one of them.
Sam doesn't want to leave Dean's side. He loves his brother fiercely and the thought of leaving him behind is terrifying, but Sam has no choice. He won't allow his big brother to go to Hell—it's really that simple.
So if Sam has to die, so be it.
"You look like you're up to something." Dean remarks when Sam closes the motel door behind him.
"Just research." Sam replies and it's the truth. He'd been doubling checking a few things, making sure that his death would result in the nullification of Dean's deal. The way he sees it though, Sam has to be thorough. He can't take the chance that the demons will be able to just bring him back to life again. When he dies, that has to be it.
"Yeah?" Dean's tone leaves it open for more discussion, but Sam isn't in the mood.
"Yeah." He reaches for his brother's burger and takes a deliberate bite while Dean protests.
There, Dean's distracted. Good.
He nods while Dean complains about how Sam needs to stick to his rabbit food and leave Dean's burger alone. Sam just smirks. After all, he needs to indulge his brother as much as he can because tomorrow . . . tomorrow will be their last day together.
It's funny how at peace he is with this decision.
Waking up on the last day he's going to spend with his brother, he has a smile on his face. He should be terrified. He shouldn't be ready to die. But in truth, he's glad. This way, Dean will be safe and Sam?
Sam will go back to being dead.
After all, what's dead should stay dead, right? That's the creed their father had drilled into their heads all those years ago. Sam isn't supposed to be here. He shouldn't be walking around, breathing. Dying . . . it had been for the best. He didn't know what else Hell had in store for him, but maybe removing himself from the equation would work out in the long run. He didn't know why, but Sam couldn't shake a sense of impending doom when he thought about the future.
"S'early." Dean mutters as he tosses in his bed.
Sam laughs and throws a pillow at him, "C'mon. Get up. I've got a surprise."
Dean opens his eyes at that, confusion etched onto his features.
Sam just grins.
Today will be the last day, but Sam will make damn sure it's one of the best.
They go to an actual restaurant for breakfast.
Dean eats a stack of homemade, fluffy, huge pancakes and beams like a toddler at a candy store.
They go see a movie after that, some action movie that Dean had wanted to see. It has a whole lot of explosions and no plot, but it makes Dean laugh which is what Sam is shooting for.
That night, as they lay on the hood of the Impala and drink beer, Dean whispers, "Thanks, Sammy."
Dean doesn't know that tomorrow, he'll wake up to an empty room. He doesn't know that he'll be free but Sam will be gone. If Dean would react rationally, Sam would tell him. The answer has, after all, been staring them in the face for these past months. Sam could've fixed things a long time ago.
Tomorrow will have to do.
"No problem." Sam replies.
And as they stare upwards at the sparkling night sky, Sam is at peace.
Tomorrow, it will all be over.
He feels bad about drugging his brother's beer, but really, he needs the head start. As he places Dean in the passenger seat of the Impala, he carefully drives them back to the motel room. It takes him almost 15 minutes to get his brother's unconscious body from the car to the bed, but when he finally does, Sam can't help but feel a moment of doubt.
Dean would never forgive him for this. His brother would try to bring him back. If that failed . . . Sam didn't want to know what would happen. But Sam also knows that saving Dean from an eternity of Hell is more important than Sam's life.
He has to do this.
He breaks into a small sedan in the parking lot and quickly begins to drive away. He has a plan for death, a way for the demons to be unable to bring him back. He just needs to get there before Dean realizes what's going on.
Hey, Bobby, it's Sam.
Listen . . . uh, I found a way to fix things. But I . . . I won't be around to explain it to Dean. I'm ending this though. Dean won't go to Hell. I'll text you the coordinates of where Dean is. When you get there . . . tell him I'm sorry okay?
The cliff overlooks the seaside.
The waves hit the base with a crash, only to pull back and slam against the rock once more. It's a long fall down, but if the force somehow doesn't kill him, the coldness of the water certainly will.
He's a got a rosary wrapped around his hands and just to be safe, he drew a few sigils in Sharpie on his skin. If he got the translation right, his body should be untouchable by demons now. If not, well, he supposes if he comes back he could try again.
Standing on the edge of the cliff, he a wave of peace washes over him. This is the right thing to do. Dean will be saved. Bobby will look after him. Life will go on without Sam Winchester.
He sits on the edge of the cliff, watching the sunrise. It's foolish, he supposes, but he wants one last moment to take in the world around him before he dies. It's funny, all the things he's taken for granted over the years.
But at least, now before he dies, he can see the sunrise once more.
Sam freezes. There's no way this should be happening. He had a head start. He didn't call Bobby until he was sure it would be too late for Dean to follow. Had he miscalculated somehow?
"Dean?" He stands up and turns to face his older brother.
"Sammy." Dean's eyes are wild and it's almost like it's taking all of his willpower to even stand up. The drug, Sam deduces, is still in effect, but Dean must be fighting it.
Fighting it for Sam's sake.
Sam should've expected this. Dean never gives up, not when it comes to his baby brother.
"Sam—" Dean takes a shaky step forwards and Sam immediately backs up.
"Don't." Sam orders, hands outstretched. He's come too far to let this end in failure now, "I shouldn't be alive, Dean." He knows logic won't win over his brother, but he has to try. He doesn't want Dean to look so distressed because of him.
"Don't say that." Dean shakes his head, gritting his teeth.
"It's true." Sam replies softly, "If I die, you don't have to go to Hell. I won't let them bring me back. You'll be safe—"
That's what really matters after all.
"Life without you is Hell." Dean informs him, deliberate emphasis on each word. He takes another shaky step towards the younger Winchester, almost like a toddler learning to walk. He extends his hand, "Sammy, don't do this. We'll figure something else out."
"There is no other way." Sam knows. He's searched everything.
"Sam, I won't let you die!" Dean roars, "It's not happening, okay?"
Sam just smiles sadly. His whole family has made choices for him his entire life. For once, Sam is going to be able to decide his own fate. For once, Sam is going to be able to set things right.
For once, Sam will be able to save Dean.
"I'm sorry, Dean."
His brother's mouth opens, his hands reach out—
And that's when Sam throws himself off the cliff.
Death isn't quite as painful as he expected it to be.
Cerulean eyes meet his.
A man in a trench coat regards him with a slight tilt of the head, curiosity evident.
"Who—?" Sam's throat is raw, like he's been screaming for an eternity.
But the man in the trench coat simply shakes his head, "Not yet."
And before Sam can protest, the man waves his hand and disappears.
Warm hands grip the front of his shirt and as Sam opens his eyes, Dean's panicked visage swims into focus.
He's supposed to be dead, but here he is, with a slight headache but alive.
"Sammy, you with me? Talk to me!"
They're at the bottom of the cliff, by the seashore. Water licks his shoes and his jeans are covered in wet sand. His shirt is soaked and he's shivering as the brisk morning air blows, but he's alive.
How is he alive?
"Sam!" Dean roars, eyes wild with panic and fear.
"M'kay," Sam tries to sit up, but he's sore—he must've hit the water after all—and then Dean is there, gently helping him, "Dean, I—"
There's no way Sam should've survived the fall, let alone the water. It's supposed to be impossible. Sam double-checked the calculations three times. He should be dead right now.
Dean should be free.
His big brother embraces him, arms locking tight enough to bruise, as Dean repeats over and over again, "Sammy, why?"
But Sam knows that Dean knows the answer. After all is what he tried to do today so different from what Dean did that night of Cold Oak? Is it really that difficult for his brother to understand where he's coming from?
"Dean." Sam rests his head against his brother's shoulder, feeling the tremor of adrenaline in Dean's warm frame.
Dean must be exhausted. The fact that he fought the sleeping drug that Sam gave him and made it here took too much energy, but now that the adrenaline crash is imminent? It's amazing Dean is even still talking.
"Just stay with me," Dean orders, voice shaky, "Don't do that again."
And for his part, all Sam can do is nod.
"Damn idjits." Bobby grouses as he hands Sam a towel and Dean a blanket. They're back at the motel now, thanks in part to Bobby, who somehow managed to track them down at the cliff. He'd bundled them both up in the back of his truck and drove them back to the motel, promising to get the Impala himself once the two of them were settled. As he'd explained, "Neither of you two can drive right now."
That much is true.
Dean's exhausted, his eyes keep drooping shut, but he quickly jolts back awake. He won't let himself rest and Sam blames himself for it. This is whole thing had gone sideways because he hadn't calculated this right. It was his damn fault—
"Sammy." Dean rests a warm hand on his shoulder and Sam glances away.
"Sleep, Dean." Bobby orders, "There will be time to talk in the morning." Then, glancing at Sam, he says softly, "Sam. Let's take a walk."
Dean shares a glance with the gruff older hunter who just nods, answering some unasked question.
"Sam?" Bobby holds open the door and Sam has no choice but to go.
It's the least he can do after he screwed this up.
They stand outside listening to soft breeze and birds chirping for what seems like an eternity.
"Bobby—" Sam feels compelled to say but the older hunter just sighs, long and drawn out.
"You were going to kill yourself." It's not a question and even if it were, the answer seems pretty obvious now.
Sheepishly, Sam ducks his head, staring at the gravel below him, "Yeah."
Bobby shakes his head, laughing mirthlessly, "Well fuck, Sam."
"I did to save Dean." Sam feels compelled to share. It wasn't like he just wanted to die—he had a valid reason, "I should be dead now anyways, Bobby. Without the deal—"
"Without the deal, your brother would've just followed you," Bobby retorts, voice dripping with venom, "Is that what you want? You want me to have to burn two bodies?"
"I'm just saying—" Sam isn't at fault here. He's really not. He just wants to set things right. Why can no one see that? Is his life really that important?
"I know what you're saying!" Bobby growls, facing the youngest Winchester, "But damn it, Sam, you just don't get it! Your brother made a choice and you can think about how fucked up that choice was until you're blue in the face, but it won't change anything."
"Bobby, I can save him—!" Sam growls, anger starting to bubble up in his veins. He's not in the wrong here. He knows he's not.
"By dying?" Bobby retorts, "You'd just kill him, Sam. You didn't see what he looked like when you were gone! You don't understand how close I came to losing both of you—!"
"He's going to Hell!" Sam roars. "Is that what you want, Bobby? For Dean to end up burning in Hell for an eternity?"
"What I want?" Bobby echoes and he sounds genuinely taken aback by the questions. He scoffs and rolls his eyes before stepping closer to Sam. He grips the front of Sam's shirt and jerks him forward, "What is it with you damn Winchesters, huh? Did you ever think about those who would be left behind Sam? Did you even spare a moment to think about how Dean and I would have to pick up the pieces of your little scheme?" Bobby chuckles now, darkly, "Of course. That's assuming Dean didn't blow his brains out the moment he realized he wouldn't be able to bring you back—"
"Stop." Sam hisses, breaking away from Bobby's grip. He doesn't want to hear this. It shouldn't matter. Sam has to save Dean at any and all costs. He has to spare his brother from an eternity of torture—
"You know what Sam? For being so goddamn smart you didn't even consider the consequences!" Bobby snaps. "Never mind the fact that I'd lose you or that Dean would never forgive himself. Never mind the fact that neither Dean nor I blame you for this! No, just as long as you throw yourself off the nearest cliff, it's just supposed to be fine!"
Sam can't take this anymore. He needs to get away, to regroup his thoughts. His plan—his meticulously crafted plan—needs to be reformulated. He needs to try again and follow through. He needs to fix this—
"That's enough, Bobby."
Dean is standing on the porch now, still exhausted, but standing somehow stronger now. He comes over to the youngest Winchester and without another world, pulls his brother into a tight hug.
"C'mon," Dean mutters, "Let's get some rest. We'll talk in the morning."
Sam just lets himself be pulled back inside.
Morning brings about some calm.
Bobby is still irritated—snapping at pretty much anything—but Sam can see past that defense mechanism. He must've scared the older hunter badly to merit this kind of response. And the more he thinks about Bobby's words, the more he wonders if there is some truth in them. He hadn't thought about what would happen after he was gone—not really—and he just assumed that everything would be fixed.
"Sammy." Dean stands before him, the Impala's keys dangling from his fingers—Bobby must've gotten it last night after the two of them went to bed—and smiles softly, "Let's go."
Sam just follows him out the door.
They drive to a small grass clearing, about twenty minutes down a dirt road.
Dean parks the car, and pulls the keys from the ignition before heading outside. He hadn't said one word during the drive, but Sam isn't quite sure what to make of that. His brother doesn't seem angry—not the way Bobby is—but it's not like he's acting like his usual self.
"Just sit down."
Sam obliges, taking a seat on top of the only real home he's ever known.
His brother bites his bottom lip and then glances around the clearing for some time. Sam's never really seen his brother nervous like this and it's weird, to be honest.
Dean holds his hand up for silence, "Yesterday was a mistake, Sam."
Sam winces, "But—"
But his older brother isn't done, not by a long shot. He continues, "You drugged my beer to try to stop me from getting to you. You threw yourself off the cliff right in front of me—"
"I did it to save you!" Sam insists sharply, "Dean, without me the deal—"
"I don't give a damn about the deal, Sam!" Dean exclaims. Then, he takes a breath, running a hand through his hair, trying to calm himself, "You had this whole plan to leave me, Sammy. And that . . . it scares the shit out of me." It's a rare admission from his stoic big brother.
"I should be dead right now—"
"So you keep saying." Dean retorts.
"Because it's true! Dean, you're going to Hell because of me—"
"Jesus, Sammy, it was my choice, okay? You didn't force me to do anything—"
Sam chuckles mirthlessly, shaking his head, "And what am I supposed to do, Dean? Just live my life while you're burning in Hell?"
"Yes!" His older brother shouts, "You get out and you live that normal life that you've always wanted—"
"And just ride off into the sunset without you?" Sam growls, "No way. Not going to happen."
"Well, if you think I'm just going to sit by and let you kill yourself to save me then you don't know me at all!"
They're at an impasse.
Neither one of the brothers will let the other go without a fight. They've always been like this, Sam thinks. Each one clinging to the other as the world tried to pull them apart. Even at Stanford, with Jess by his side, he still felt the void that not having his brother caused. That void had been filled the moment he got back into the Impala with his brother driving.
Losing Dean to Hell . . . how is Sam supposed to go on after that? How is he supposed to live knowing that his brother died to bring him back?
The youngest Winchester meets his brother's concerned gaze and can't help but look away as the sting of tears burns his eyes. He's been racing against the clock ever since he found out about Dean's deal. He hasn't had a moment to truly process what the deal meant.
He knew—in the abstract—that he'd be losing Dean, but now, it's hitting him all at once. A life without Dean . . . how could that be possible?
The sobs wrack his body and Dean is there, holding him like he did all those times when Sam was scared of the monster that lived under his bed, or when he'd been dumped by Rachel Evan in his first year of high school. Dean had always been there, ready to make things better.
And in the future, he won't be.
How is Sam supposed to live with that?
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean soothes, "I'm right here. I've got you."
But the tears keep coming because it's not okay.
It will never be okay.
When he calms down, they sit on the hood of the Impala, watching the stars start to light up in the darkening sky.
"You scared me." Dean admits quietly.
". . . sorry."
"Don't do it again, okay? I . . . I can't lose you, Sammy."
But see, there's the rub. Because Sam can't lose Dean. He just can't. He won't. And Dean refuses to let go of Sam, even though it will prevent him from going to Hell.
It's an impasse.
"I won't, Dean."
Because despite his careful planning, something had gone wrong. He remembered a pair of vivid cerulean eyes meeting his as he was yanked from the sea, almost as if an angel had saved him.
But, that's impossible, he knows.
Angels didn't exist.
But Sam Winchester knows when the deck is stacked against him and it's time to try a different strategy.
He will save Dean.
Author's Note: Wow, that turned out way more angsty than I thought it would. Still, it's a nice change of pace for me. I hope you enjoyed! Please review if you have a moment. Thanks!