Title: This is the Way the World Ends
Author: tommygirl828 (at) gmail (dot) com
A/N: Written for the Apocalypse Ficathon. Much love to Steph for the beta work. Crossposted to my livejournal and eventually my website
This is the Way the World Ends
"…This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper." – The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot
"It's official," Sam begins, flipping through the few channels that the motel gets, all offering the same information – doom, doom, and more doom. He chucks the remote and falls back on one of the beds in the room. His eyes wander to his brother and he says, "The world's fucking ending."
Dean shrugs off his jacket and drops his bag on the floor. Sam realizes that he's talking to Dean and that Dean doesn't let much penetrate, but the indifferent look on his face is almost too much. Sam stares dubiously at his brother and says, "Nuclear fucking war, Dean. Dooms Day. Everyone that wasn't killed in the blast dying horrible deaths."
"You really know how to cheer a guy up, Sammy," Dean replies. He sits on the opposite bed, lost in his own thoughts. After a few moments, he glances at Sam and says, "I think we need to get drunk."
"Everything's closed, Dean. We had to steal the keys to get into this room."
"It figures that we're stuck with the shabby pickings of bumblefuck, Nebraska."
"We're in Oklahoma."
"Whatever. We're gonna die all the same."
"Sorry, I get maudlin when I'm sober."
"Dean, there's nowhere to buy beer."
"It's the end of the fucking world, Sammy. I'm not paying for my fucking whiskey."
"You're sick, man. Fucking sick," Dean slurs.
"All I said…"
"I heard you the first time, Sammy. I don't need to hear it again. I'm not that drunk," Dean replies. He shakes his head and mutters not quite under his breath, "No one liked Batman and Robin."
"It wasn't as terrible…"
Dean covers his ears and shouts, "I cannot hear you. Fa, la, la."
"Uma Thurman is hot."
"Not hot enough to make that movie watchable."
"It would've had a chance if they hadn't fucked around with who played Batman," Sam counters. The rational part of his brain is yelling that now is not the time to be arguing movies with his brother. Sadly, the rational part of his brain is lost somewhere beneath a bottle of Jack and a few beers.
Sam starts to laugh. He's not sure what he's laughing at – the absurdity of the situation, the thought that his last moments on earth will take place while he's drunk and in yesterday's underwear, how much he's come to appreciate these moments with his brother – but he can't stop.
He wipes the saliva from the corners of his mouth and catches his breath. He meets Dean's gaze and says, "At least I won't have to pay those student loans back."
Dean nods and says, "Sure, it works out for you. I'm never going to know if Sam and Jason got back together on General Hospital."
The end of the world doesn't really feel like the end of the world should. It's like that line from the poem by T.S. Eliot – not with a bang but a whimper. It's all Sam can think about as he lays wrapped up in the musty motel blankets, pretending to count the cracks in the ceiling and not think about the past forty-eight hours. His gaze shifts to Dean and Sam knows from his brother's breathing patterns that he's not asleep either. Not that Sam can blame him. It's the end of the world and it doesn't feel nearly as gigantic or spectacular as Sam thinks it should.
As usual, as though Dean has his own psychic abilities where Sam is concerned, Dean rolls over on his side and says, "This end of the world shit is pretty damn boring."
"All the television stations are broadcasting the damn emergency broadcast system. Humanity is dying out and I can't even watch some decent soft core porn."
"First, there is no such thing as decent soft core porn…"
"Oh Sam, I thought I raised you better than that."
Sam ignores Dean and continues, "And second, only you would be facing the demise of the human race and wondering where the hell the porn is."
"If I'm going to die, I want to die happy."
Sam smiles at his brother. The honesty behind his response is so typically Dean that Sam can almost believe it's a day like every other day, that they aren't waiting for this small, nowhere town in Oklahoma to follow in the footsteps of the east and west coasts. "I think it's more important that people are informed about how to handle the coming fallout than jerking off one last time, Dean."
"Says a guy that didn't get laid nearly enough."
"It might not be too late for me to track down some tail for us, Sammy."
"Yeah, that's how I want to end my days on earth, going at it with some skank."
"How are we related?"
"I ask myself that all the time."
"That hurts, Sam."
"No, it doesn't."
"Well, it might if I was in touch with my feelings," Dean counters. Dean takes a deep breath and sits up in his bed. He glances around the room and says, "This is fucking weird."
"Tell me about it."
"I guess from all our dealings with the supernatural stuff…I expected something more than waiting for a slow demise from radiation or suffocation."
Sam wants to tell his brother that it won't be like that for them, but for once they're no different than everyone else. The irony isn't lost on Sam - he finally achieves normalcy at the fucking end of the world, right around the time he'd give just about anything to have powers that could get him and Dean out of this mess.
Sam catches Dean staring at him and says, "I always figured you and I wouldn't make it to the end of the world."
"Yeah, me too, Sammy," Dean replies.
"At least we're together," Sam says. "That counts for something."
"Christ Sammy, am I going to have to hold your hand and sing sad songs with you now?"
Sam rolls his eyes, but can't fight the laugh that rises from his belly as he imagines that scenario. He shakes his head and replies, "I've heard you sing before, man. The end of the world is a much more appealing prospect."
Sam sits up in bed now that the pretense of sleeping is gone. He prefers this really, the idea of spending whatever time he has left talking and bickering with his brother. Dean is one of the only permanent things he's ever known, the only person that has always been there, and there isn't anyone else Sam would rather be with in the end.
Of course, he'll swallow a bullet before he admits that out loud. Impending doom or not, Sam knows that Dean would mock him for all of eternity if he let anything like that slip out.
Sam reaches for the remote, but before he can flip on the television, Dean says, "Leave that shit off. It's too fucking depressing."
"I thought you were bored?"
"And you think my boredom will be cured by the constant beeping and scroll messages of the emergency broadcast system?"
"Dean, we need to know—"
"There's nothing we need to know that the television is going to tell us."
Dean has a point, but Sam can't stand the quiet or the idea of not knowing when it's coming. At least with their hunts, there has always been the knowledge that something could go wrong, that this could be the end. This nuclear fallout stuff is so different from that – slow and painful and neverending. How can Sam prepare for something like this?
Sam's also scared shitless that all those special powers he possesses will make him more resistant to the end, that he'll last longer than Dean. Sam's stomach churns at the thought. He can't be left alone, not without Dean to provide glib commentary or to shoot him one of his patented Dean looks that keeps Sam steady on his feet.
"You okay, Sammy?"
Sam doesn't meet his brother's gaze. Instead, he shrugs and asks, "Are you really asking me that question?"
"The world is in nuclear fallout after crazy terrorists unleashed missiles all over the damn place, there is no hope for humanity's survival, and you want to know if I'm okay?"
Dean's face suddenly twists in pain. Sam springs to his feet and places his hands on his brother's shoulders. He prays that if this is it, it's over quickly for both of them. But Dean looks up at him and says grimly, "Jesus, Sammy, we're gonna die in fucking Oklahoma."
As Sam processes the words, his hands clutch into small fists and he punches his brother in the arm. Fucking asshole's trying to scare him senseless.
Dean rubs his arm and responds, "Ow. Bitch."
"Don't do that, Dean."
"But it's Oklahoma, Sam. Fucking middle of nowhere. I don't want to die in the middle of nowhere. I was hoping for a big city like New York, surrounded by hot girls wishing to serve me."
"Well if we had been in any of the major cities we'd probably be dead right now."
Dean looks up at Sam and says, "I'm not sure that this isn't worse."
"Yeah, I know."
"Just so we're clear, if this is how it has to end, I guess I'm glad you're here with me," Dean says. He leans back against his pillows and shuts his eyes, and Sam knows there will be no further discussion of the topic.
Sam smiles and plops back down on his bed. He fingers through his father's journal and says, "Dean, I have an idea."
"Only three more hours until dusk settles," Dean states, pulling the Impala to the side of the large crypt in the cemetery. It didn't take nearly as long as they thought it would to get to the cemetery, the roads completely empty. Sam figures everyone that's still alive is boarded up in their homes, surrounded by their families while they pray and wait for the inevitable end.
Dean turns the car off and rests his head on the steering wheel for a moment before adding, "We'll hang out here until dark and then attack. Hopefully, that news broadcast was right about how long it takes to die in the aftermath and we won't rot in this car and become ghoul worm food."
"Always so optimistic."
"The world's ending, Sam. I think that entitles me to a bit of pessimism."
Sam can't decide if it's weird or natural that his last few hours will be spent in a cemetery fighting evil with his brother by his side. He takes a sip of his water and says, "So the goal is to take as many of the ghouls out with us and then it'll be over."
"Are you sure you want to do this?"
"It was my idea, wasn't it?"
"I'm just making sure…I mean, even most of the evil things have scattered for the time being. Earth is not such a fun place right now."
"Yeah, but not these ghouls. It's feeding time for them."
"A fucking buffet of fresh flesh for them to feast on," Dean says with a sigh. He rubs his temples and adds, "Fucking ghouls. If only there was a nest of vampires or an evil poltergeist around. Now that would be a fun way to go out."
Sam stares at his brother for a second and then smiles. Only his brother would wish to go out fighting something nastier than ghouls. Actually, knowing Dean, he probably has a list of things he'd prefer to be fighting to his death. Sam says, "You have a warped idea of good times."
Dean nods. "C'mon Sammy, admit it. You'd rather go out fighting something worse than a pack of ghouls too."
"Hey, ghouls are hard to kill."
"True…they're pesky fuckers. And this location is a hub. I'm not even special like you and I can feel it."
Sam swats at Dean and says, "People are already dropping in this area, Dean. It's a matter of hours at this point, and I for one, would rather I was doing something."
"Since when do you want to go out fighting?"
"Since the end of the world arrived and the thought of you going out any other way makes me sick to my stomach."
"Aww Sammy, you love me. You really love me."
"Yeah, I do, Dean."
Dean holds up his hand. "Good God, let's not go there."
"And I know you love me. I won't force you to say it."
Dean rolls his eyes, twirling his favorite knife in his hands. He leans back in the driver's seat of the Impala, "I don't even tell my car that I love her, Sam."
"You have an illness, you know."
Dean runs his hands over the steering wheel of the car, gentle touches like he's committing the feel of the car to memory. He stops when his stomach growls. He groans and says, "I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I'd give anything for a real meal right about now. If I have to see one more vending machine cupcake, it won't be pretty."
"Is it possible? Has hell actually frozen over?"
"I certainly hope I'm not about to find out," Dean replies.
"Don't talk like that, man."
"I mean it."
"Okay, Sammy," Dean replies. He clears his throat and Sam is actually grateful for Dean's dislike of silences. Dean says, "Besides, I have my heaven all thought out. I'll catch up with the folks and then it's off to pick up girls with Jim Morrison and drink heavily without fear of hangovers or beer guts. Ahhh, I can't wait."
"You scare me sometimes."
"Not all of us are hoping heaven is like a Sandra Bullock movie, Sam."
"I don't think you get to choose what heaven is like."
"But if you could, yours would totally involve long walks on the beach while you hold hands with Jessica. Wouldn't it?" Dean pauses, but not long enough for Sam to actually reply. Dean shakes his head in mock disappointment and says, "Were you even born with testicles, little brother?"
"You're an ass."
"So this could be our very last conversation and this is how you want it to go?"
Dean shrugs. "It works for me."
"And that's why you're an ass," Sam replies. He doesn't plan to admit the next part aloud, but it comes barreling out of his mouth before he can stop himself. "Because if I could pick what my heaven was like, you'd be a part of it."
Dean stares at him and Sam has to fight the urge to bolt from the car and go rushing into the crypt where the ghouls are holed up. Sure, there isn't anything he can actually do until the sun goes down, but at least, he'd be able to get away from his brother's gaze. Sam shuts his eyes, waiting for the expected sarcastic comment, but none comes.
After a few more seconds pass, Dean says, almost inaudibly, "Us being together is a given."
Sam knows better than to make a big deal about Dean's admission. He keeps his eyes shut and tries to bite back his smile. It's not that he's ever questioned his brother's love for him – it's something as obvious as the sun's color – but it's still nice to have it spelled out for him every now and again. And maybe he really is a girl because Sam likes the idea that in the end, he'll still have Dean and Jessica and his parents. That maybe whatever is waiting for them next will be better than this.
Dean clears his throat again and says, "But seriously dude, no offense to Jessica. I know you loved her, but an eternity of walks on the beach and cuddling with puppies sounds absolutely frightening."
Dark comes earlier than normal and Sam figures that's another piece of the world ending. All the chemicals and shit in the air from all those bombs are fucking with the sunlight. It sucks because Sam hoped to see one last sunset.
Dean slides out of driver's seat, armed with knives and a flamethrower. He pats the hood of the car and says, "Are you ready, Sammy?"
Sam hops out of the car and nods, falling in line next to his brother as they walk the hundred yards to the mausoleum. Before Dean can open the door, Sam grabs his arm and says, "I don't think the guy who has Glitter memorized can pick on me for liking Batman and Robin."
"At least, my movie has hot ass."
"Uma Thurman is hot."
"Your taste in women is appalling. This shouldn't surprise me. I've seen who you've stumbled home with at night."
Dean shakes his head and replies, "Says the guy who would pass up fucking Gisele Bundchen in heaven in favor of cuddling with his girlfriend."
Sam shakes his head. He decides to risk it, ignoring Dean's general rules about personal space, and steps closer to his brother. Sam places his hands on Dean's shoulders and says, "You're a fucking nutcase, but I'm glad that I'm here with you."
"Yeah, you're a whiny little bitch most of the time, but I'm glad you're here with me too."
"So we're gonna do this?"
"You said it before – I'm not made for going out in some worst case nuclear war scenario. I'd die of boredom before the radiation ever got me."
"Not to mention the thought of you with a bald head is unnerving," Dean says.
Sam rolls his eyes and Dean slaps him on the back. It's about as affectionate as Dean gets and it hits Sam that this really is the end.
And maybe the world is okay going out with a whimper, but that doesn't work well for Wincesters. They're much fonder of big bangs.