Title: Broken Puppets

Rating: PG-13

Category: Post-season finale gen vignette

Spoilers: Heavy "Devil's Trap"

Disclaimer: The following characters and situations are used without permission of the creators, owners, and further affiliates of the Warner Bros television show, Supernatural, to whom they rightly belong. I claim only what is mine, and I make no money off what is theirs.

From somewhere in the sighing darkness, a woman cries. He thinks it is his mother.

Dean opens his bleary eyes, and the moon is tinged red with blood in his vision. When he turns his head, heavy and floating, he buries his nose in the grass beneath him. The blades are cold against his opened cheek, and the ground smells of his childhood home before the fire destroyed everything. Before the fire broke his soul into pieces for the world's feast.

In the back of his throat, the blood rises, warm and viscous, over his tongue. The liquid dribbles out from between his cracked lips, and it falls onto his shirt and grass. He tries to spit the blood out, only there is so much now, so much more than should be possible, and he can't help but swallow it. He swallows his blood and tastes death.

Sam appears then, a staggering figure emerging from the shadows, and he collapses down next to Dean. Collapses down onto the grass wet with dew and blood and onto the ground of rock and glass. Half of Sam's face is destroyed, and Dean wonders if his brother's fire can still exist beneath flesh streaked with colors of the night. When Sam looks over at Dean through a pinched eye, Dean can see a man who is more than just his younger brother, and he knows Sam's spark has not been extinguished.

The wind is cold and tugs on their sleeves as they lay apart—Dean on his side, Sam on his back—under a devil's moon.

Dad, Dean finally slurs through the blood after the silence passes. Dad?

It's a word of hope. A question of doubt.

Sam doesn't answer, can't answer, around a tongue lying thick in his mouth. He thinks of when he awoke from the crash and pulled Dean from the car, and he thinks of after knowing Dean was alive, he went back for their father. Yet, he tries not to think of what a ruined puppet their father was by the time Sam reached him.

Across the grass, Dean reaches for Sam, reaches with broken fingers on a swollen wrist. He needs to know. Dad, he says again. Begs again.

No, comes the answer. I'm sorry. No.

A single tear squeezes from the corner of Dean's eye. The watery bead's clean, glossy trail slices through the dirt and grime on his skin. One tear is all that he can cry now because his body is too broken to produce the grief his father deserves.

Sam pulls himself closer to Dean, like he did when he was a child, and when he only saw death in his history books and not in his brother's eyes. They no longer have a father, and their mother is gone. Sam wonders if they can still be sons if both their parents are dead.

Hey, Sam says, trying to reach Dean's blurred mind. Hey, it has to be a good sign if we're not dead yet.

His last word sags around them in a fog of a daunting future.

Then Sam presses his face into Dean's shoulder, presses his nose against the blood-soaked coat that smells of gunpowder and metal, and he wonders how things arrived at such a breaking point.

Dean, Sam whispers, Dean, Dean.

There are no words in Dean's answer. Just a soft hiss of breath from Dean's lips. A soft hiss, barely strong enough to move Sam's hair and barely strong enough to be considered alive.

Dean, we're going to be okay. I know it, I know we will be.

But then Dean's speaking, only it's not to Sam.

Mom, Dean cries, Mom, please.

Sam doesn't move at first, doesn't respond to his older brother's pleas for a salvation that can no longer wipe away their tears. Then, Sam lifts his head and sees that Dean's eyes are filmy underneath their bloody lids.

There cannot be much longer left for them now.

So Sam, with his own phone crushed during the collision, reaches into Dean's jacket for their only remaining contact outside this infinite hell. Dean is too damaged to notice his younger brother's touch. He is too damaged to notice anything.

When Sam opens the cover of Dean's phone, the screen glows in the darkness like a soft illumination of hope. The distant rings of the call echo in Sam's ear until he hears the voices that promise him so much. They promise speed and safety. They promise life. Life at last.

After Sam sets the phone down, he lays his head next to his brother's on the grass. Dean is sleeping, and shallow gasps wheeze through his purpling lips. Blessedly, the pain cannot reach him with its hooked nails in his sleep. Listening to Dean's rasping breaths that rise and fall alongside the hiss of the wind, Sam watches his own long fingers curl around the thick, green blades of grass.

There is nothing to do now, but wait. Wait and wonder if the world will end by morning.

Sam closes his eyes. Fat tears of pain fall down his cheeks.

From somewhere in the sighing darkness, a woman cries. He wishes he knew who it was.