A/N: This is the sequel to Stairway to Heaven. Clowns or Midget and I loved writing Stairway to Heaven and couldn't leave our story alone. We decided to write another and it was only posted on Clowns or Midgets profile. I wanted to have a copy here as well. Unfortunately, life got in the way for me and the story was put on hold for years. Clowns or Midgets finished up this great story as I had become entangled in life. I hope you enjoy.
Bobby jerked awake in the middle of the night and sat bolt upright in bed. He didn't know what had woken him but, given the events of the last week, he doubted it was something good. He got out of bed and pulled on the robe from the back of the door.
When he got out onto the hall he saw the door to Sam and Dean's room was ajar. Sam had taken to wandering the house, searching for an unattainable something or someone, since Lucifer had banished himself to the Cage, and Bobby wondered if his wanderings had taken on a nocturnal element.
He pushed open the door and saw that both beds were empty. Puzzling over that, he went down the stairs to the study. He didn't see Dean or Sam, but the back door was open. As he crossed the room, he trod on a piece of paper. He stooped to pick it up and read the note in the familiar handwriting, his heart contracting painfully in his chest as he took in the meaning of the words.
On leaden feet, he walked out onto the back porch. What he saw there made tears prick at his eyes. Dean was standing with the horsemen's rings in his hand, staring down at the ground as though he could recall his brother back through sheer desperation.
"Dean?" he called.
Dean's knees buckled. He turned back to look at Bobby, tears streaming down his face. "He's gone, Bobby," he said in a broken voice.
Bobby crossed the distance between them and placed a hand on Dean's shoulder. "I know. I'm so sorry." He didn't know what else to say. What could he possibly say to make it any better for Dean? His brother was gone and there was no bringing him back; no demon deals or angels. Sam had made his choice and they had to respect it.
The realization brought a lump to his throat and tears began to fall in earnest. Sam was gone. He would never talk to him again, never laugh with him, never grind his teeth in frustration at whatever damn fool mess he had gotten himself into that time. There was no coming back from this.
"I'm sorry, Dean," he said again.
Dean pushed himself to his feet and wiped the tears from his face. Bobby saw a moment of vulnerability in his surrogate son before the walls came back up and Dean closed himself off. It was like watching shutters descending over a storefront. One moment he was raw and wrought with pain, the next he was devoid of all emotion.
"At least they're together," Bobby offered.
Dean trudged up the porch steps and into the house. Bobby followed him and watched as Dean picked up the half empty bottle of whiskey from the countertop. He didn't bother with a glass; he merely uncapped the bottle and took a large swig of the amber liquid. He lowered the bottle and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "You want some?"
Bobby shook his head. Despite the fact a drink sounded damn good, he resisted the urge.
After Dean had been dragged to Hell by the hounds, Bobby had drowned his sorrow in a bottle. He hadn't thought anything of it until Dean had come back, then the disapproval in Dean's eyes had made him feel guilty. He hadn't honored Dean's life while he had been gone as he should have; he had lost himself. He would not make that mistake again. Sam was gone, they would never see him again, and Bobby was going to honor Sam's life and Lucifer's sacrifice. He was going to be strong.
"Your loss," Dean said, taking another swig.
Bobby felt like he should do something, but he didn't know what. Dean's world had just imploded; there was no comfort to be given. He lived for his brother and his brother was gone. There was no way of knowing what he would do now. Bobby knew one thing: he had to find Dean a new reason to live if he didn't want to lose his only remaining son.
Dean stumbled into the kitchen around noon. His head was pounding to the beat of his heart and his eyes stung against the bright sunlight. He took a mug from the drainer and poured himself coffee. He would have liked to lace it with whiskey, but he could feel Bobby's eyes on him from behind the desk and he didn't want an argument.
He considered getting something to eat, but his stomach rebelled at the thought, so he took his mug of coffee out to the back porch. He sank down onto the top step, stretching his legs out in front of him. Closing his eyes, he tried to hold onto the dream he'd been having before Bobby banging around in the kitchen had woken him.
It was a dream he'd had for the last seven nights, ever since Sam had gone, and it was the closest thing to comfort he'd had in that time. In his dream, he woke before Sam had a chance to leap into the Cage. It was always a different conversation, but the goal was the same, to stop Sam from taking that leap. He argued with everything he had, coming at the problem from every angle, and sometimes he reached his brother. Sometimes, Sam stayed.
A lot of the time, he didn't know who he was more angry with, Sam or himself. He had noticed that Sam seemed more engaged the last day, as if behind the vacant expression his mind was working tirelessly. He should have realized what that meant. If he had been paying more attention, he would have caught Sam before he left.
Why hadn't he taken the rings away from Sam? If he had, Sam would never have been able to leave him. That was the crux of his anger towards Sam. He'd left Dean, and it wasn't death or an accident that had stolen him away, Sam had made the decision to leave. Given a choice between Dean and Lucifer, he'd chosen Lucifer, and that burned Dean. He'd done everything he could from the age of four years old to take care of Sam. He always put him first, giving him everything he had, but it wasn't enough. He'd had a lifetime with Dean and only a few months with Lucifer, but it was clear that time didn't matter when it came down to it. It hadn't been enough, Dean hadn't been enough.
He got to his feet and tossed away the dregs of his coffee. Emotion was threatening to overwhelm him again. He was sick of feeling like this. He wanted the pain to stop. He wanted his brother back. There was no getting him back though. He was gone forever, and there was nothing Dean could do about it.
He put his hand in his pocket and ran his fingers over the rings he had picked up from the ground after he'd found Sam's note. He didn't know why he kept them. They only caused him pain at what they represented, but he couldn't bear to throw them away.
Bobby was waiting for him when he got back into the house. He looked at Dean expectantly and cleared his throat.
"What?" Dean asked belligerently.
"I was thinking maybe it's time to clear up Sam's stuff." He looked pointedly at the hoodie that had been left on the back of a chair.
Dean shook his head. "No."
"It's not helping either of us to have it lying around, reminding us."
Bobby didn't understand. While Sam's presence remained in the house, Dean could pretend that he was coming back. It didn't happen often, but occasionally Dean would see something of Sam's and he would forget for a second what had happened. He lived for those moments, and he wasn't about to lose them, too.
"I'm not getting rid of him," he said.
"You know that's not what I mean," Bobby said quietly. "I just think it would help us both to have it cleared away."
"No!" Dean shouted, throwing his mug at the wall. It smashed, and flecks of coffee spattered against the wall like blood.
Bobby glowered at him. "That was Karen's."
Dean spoke through gritted teeth. "You're allowed to keep her things around. Why can't I keep Sam's?"
"I'm not talking about throwing it out. We could pack it up somewhere."
Dean shook his head. He knew if he explained it to Bobby, how it helped him to have Sam's presence remain, he would understand, but he couldn't bring himself to say the words. It could instigate a heart-to-heart, and Dean wanted nothing less now. He couldn't bear to open himself to that conversation and the accompanying pain.
"To hell with this," he said, grabbing the fresh bottle of whiskey from the countertop. He held it against his chest and stomped out of the door to the porch again. He thought he would find a junker that still had enough of an engine to work on and he would lose himself there for a couple of hours.
Bobby watched Dean leave the house and he sighed. Tugging off his baseball cap, he ran a hand through his thinning hair. He didn't know what to do anymore. Dean was slowly killing himself with the drink. He knew that wasn't what Sam would want to happen.
He'd read the note Sam had left, and he knew that in it he asked Dean and him to take care of each other, but Bobby didn't know how; Dean was refusing all his efforts at comfort.
He raised his eyes heavenward and spoke in a low tone. "Cas, we need to talk. I know you've got stuff going on but Dean needs you."
There was a fluttering sound and Castiel appeared in the arch between the study and kitchen. "Bobby," he said solemnly.
"Damn, Cas," Bobby said. "Where have you been?"
"I have been focused on the hunt for my Father. I believe if I find Him, our troubles would be solved. He can recall Michael from his vendetta and Lucifer will be able to return to Sam."
"It's a little late for that, Cas. Sam's gone."
Castiel stiffened. "He's dead?" There was genuine pain in his voice.
Bobby shook his head slowly. "He's gone to be with Lucifer. He opened the cage again and took a dive."
Castiel sighed and bowed his head. "I never imagined he would do that."
"None of us did. He caught us all off guard. On the last day he seemed different, and I hoped it was him coming out of it, but I was wrong."
"How is Dean?" Castiel asked.
Bobby scrubbed a hand through his beard. "He's hurting, hurting bad."
"What can I do?"
"I don't know, Cas. That's the problem, I don't think there's anything anyone but Sam can do, and Sam's…"
"Gone," Castiel finished for him. He sighed heavily. "I will speak to Dean. Perhaps I can offer him some comfort."
"You're welcome to try," Bobby said. "Maybe a fresh voice will snap him out of this. God knows, I've tried my best, but nothing gets through to him."
"Where is he?"
"He went out back. He's probably working on a junker. He's done that before."
Not wasting the time needed to walk to Dean, Castiel disappeared. Bobby got to his feet and ambled out to the yard, hoping against hope that Castiel would be able to get through to Dean where he had failed.
He was disappointed.
When he got to the garage, he found Castiel pinned against the wall with Dean's hand at his throat. He knew Castiel could break Dean's hold without thought, but the angel was allowing himself to be held there.
"What are you doing?" Bobby asked, shocked.
Dean spoke through gritted teeth. "I'm dealing with a traitor!"
Bobby's mind was reeling. "Traitor?"
"Yeah, after everything, he abandoned us to take care of Sam alone."
"I'm sorry, Dean," Castiel said with the air of someone who had said this many times before and had no hope of reaching him now.
"I told you to stop saying that!" Dean growled. "I don't want your apologies. I want to know why you weren't here to stop him."
"I was searching for my Father."
"God," Dean scoffed. "How's that going?"
"I have been unable to find any sign of Him," Castiel admitted.
"Then why weren't you here?" Dean demanded. "You could have saved him. Me and Bobby had to sleep. We had our hands full all day keeping an eye on him. You don't sleep. You should have been here!"
"I thought I was acting for the best. I believed if God could return He could stop Michael. Lucifer could have returned and Sam could have been happy."
"Well that plan crapped out," Dean said. "Because of you, my brother is gone."
Castiel lifted his hand and pulled Dean's fingers away from his throat. "Even if I had been here I would not have stopped him."
Dean sputtered. "You're kidding me, right?"
Castiel shook his head. "I saw the depth of Sam's pain for myself. I would not have allowed that to continue had I had the means to stop it. You must take comfort in the fact they are together now."
"Screw that!" Dean shouted. "I want my brother back!"
Castiel looked him in the eye. "I am sorry I cannot say what you want to hear, Dean. I believe Sam is happy now, and that is what I want for him, no matter how much I will miss his company."
Dean looked to Bobby. "You feel the same way?"
Bobby took a deep breath and examined his feelings. He missed Sam, so much so that it overwhelmed him on occasion, but he believed Sam was happy now, and he wanted that for him. He wanted both his boys to be happy. It was unfortunate that the happiness of one came at the misery of another, but that was how life worked as far as Bobby could tell. Someone always had to pay the price, and this time it was Dean.
"I do," he said heavily. "I love you and Sam like my own, and I wish he could have been happy here, but he's where he's supposed to be now, with Lucifer."
Dean shook his head as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Happy with Lucifer? He could have been happy here, dammit!"
"Do you really believe that?" Bobby asked. "Because I don't. He may only have had a short time with Lucifer, but I can't say I'd ever seen him happier. We could never have made losing him right for Sam."
Dean stepped back, away from Bobby and Castiel. "I'm done with the both of you. You might be happy that Sammy's gone, but I'm not."
"We never said we were—" Bobby began but Dean cut him off.
"I don't want to hear it! I'm outta here."
He strode past Bobby and Castiel, not giving them another glance. Bobby hurried after him and reached the house just in time to have the door slammed in his face. He wrenched it open and looked around the room for Dean, but he was nowhere in sight. Castiel was there though, looking up at the ceiling. There was movement from above and after a few minutes, Dean appeared with two duffels slung over his shoulder. He grabbed Sam's hoodie from the back of the chair and held it in his fist.
"There, you don't have to be bothered by his stuff cluttering up your place anymore," he snarled.
"You know that was never what this was about," Bobby said.
Dean raised a hand, silencing him, and turned his scowl on Castiel. "You are going to stay the hell away from me. I don't care what trouble you get yourself into, I don't want to hear it."
Castiel nodded solemnly. "As you wish."
"What about me?" Bobby asked. "You want me to stay the hell away from you too?"
Dean ignored his question and dragged open the door.
"Dean!" Bobby said loudly.
Dean turned. "I'm grateful for all you've done for me and Sam, and I won't forget it, but I want you to forget me as easily as you forgot Sam. I won't be coming back here."
Bobby's heart clenched. Dean's words hurt him. He had lost one of his boys to the Cage and now he was going to lose another to his grief.
Dean strode out of the door and a moment later they heard the rumble of the Impala's engine coming to life and the squeal of tires as Dean drove out of their lives.