So, this is the next (and also final!) chapter...it's possible I'll be able to be persuaded to add an epilogue with some nice reviews, but I'm still not sure. Pretty happy with the way I ended it, but I guess my mind could always be changed! This was still a bit on the long side for an update, but not nearly as long as before! I'm so proud of myself, yay!
And by the way...who caught "Born Under a Bad Sign"? OMG OMG! (hyperventilates) I won't give anything away, but MAN – that episode totally rocked...although the preview for "Tall Tales" seems a bit strange...
I want to take a few seconds to thank all of my brilliant reviewers! I'm pretty sure I replied to all of you, (feel free to send me a nasty PM if I didn't), and to all those anonymous readers out there: thanks so much! Even though I couldn't reply to you, each piece of feedback I receive is always so appreciated!
A/N: Since this is the last chapter, the "BEFORE" and "NOW" are finally the same time frame; so this chapter is all in one portion. Believe me, it was really hard to get them to match...but they're finally in synch. Just in case you forgot, Sam wrote the note, Dean found it, and Allison is waiting! As for Sam, well...keep reading...
Dean tried to ignore the cold feeling penetrating his chest as he trekked through the underbrush, tried to disregard the blinding panic that was taking hold of his body. Panic isn't good for hunting. It spurs impulsive decisions, makes you do things you shouldn't that have the resulting potential to put someone in danger. And the someone currently on the line was Sam.
The flashlight he was holding shook crazily in his hand...strange, as Dean couldn't seem to find it in himself to stop the trembling. His hand was always steady. Always. It was something he prided himself on from the time he was six, and bulls-eyed the cans of the fence with his dad's rifle. He maintained his prized steadiness under conditions that would have most people screaming in terror, under conditions that found him holding some of the most deadly weapons in existence.
But now, he couldn't even keep the damned FLASHLIGHT from shaking. It was involuntary, and Dean subconsciously found himself hating the sign of weakness.
As of now, however, he couldn't really care less.
He had to find Sam, before it was too late.
The entire backwoods area looked different in the dark of night. What was once a non-threatening, although admittedly depressing, neighborhood now seemed to loom taller...blacker...seemed to taunt him as he struggled to find the right friggin' place.
It was one of those shacks in the middle, right? Dean shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs. He couldn't seem to think straight.
Yeah. It was the condemned one. Right past the one straight ahead. That's where he would find Sammy.
Dean broke into a run, panting out of both fear and exhaustion, drowning out the sound of his boots squishing on dewy grass and crickets chirping somewhere in the distance.
Something was definitely up ahead. A vague, dark lump lay out on the ground, a white, wispy figure hovering next to it.
As Dean neared the scene, the lump took on a human form. And the white wisp took on the form of a young, female ghost.
"Sammy!" Dean's voice came out hitched, choked.
The lump that was his brother remained unmoving, dark hair strewn over his closed eyes and chest unnaturally, and frighteningly, still.
Dean knelt beside Sam, fingers brushing the long, brown locks out of his eyes and automatically...fearfully...searching for a pulse.
There was none. No familiar drumming beneath the fingertips. And his skin was cold, clammy.
Dean felt the tears start. They streamed down his face, erupting into sobs that shook his body. He felt the presence of the ghost, standing over his shoulder and watching him. But she said nothing, and Dean chose to ignore her for the time being.
He wouldn't accept that his brother was dead. It was impossible.
Sam had survived things in his life that he had no right to. Been too injured to stand, too weak to fight, too battered to see straight. But he had always lived; Dean had always saved him. There was no way in hell Sam was going to get off walking into his own death in some act of martyrdom. No. He wouldn't let that idiot just throw his life away, throw his life away for HIM.
Jesus Christ, it was his job to protect Sam. Not the other way around. That kid never had seemed able to get that through his skull.
Dean felt anger rush out of him, felt it manifest itself into a sort of fierce resolve.
Sammy was NOT dying.
Dean pounded his fists in desperation on Sam's chest, willing the certain water present in his lungs to leave his body and for air to enter. The inevitable burst of liquid poured out almost immediately, but Dean continued his compressions. It became a rhythm, pounding compressions, blowing breaths. Pounding. Blowing.
After a few minutes, Dean began to lose hope. Something in him had known there was no chance of resuscitation from the beginning. Sam's body was too cold, his limbs were too rigid.
He had been dead for some time before Dean's arrival. Dean felt himself break down. He physically felt like his heart had been torn from his chest; emotionally it felt like all happiness had been forever drained from his soul. The sobs again wracked his frame, threatening to destroy him in their intensity.
The world became blurry; Dean became aware as he held his brother's head to his chest that the tears had obscured his vision. He blinked rapidly to clear his eyes – Allison's form appearing in front of him immediately upon doing so.
Dean raised his head slowly, a menacing, grief-induced scowl placed upon his face to greet the expectant spirit. He didn't speak, but seemed to challenge the transparent young girl with his defiant glare.
Allison seemed somewhat taken aback upon peering into the red-rimmed, swollen, and empty eyes of the person she had stolen a life from. However, she quickly replaced her soft expression with a smug smile.
"I'll bet you feel sorry now, Dean," she whispered.
Dean grimaced, seeming to have difficulty forming coherent words without breaking out in sobs. "Sorry for what, you bitch?" he snarled through clenched teeth.
"Sorry for treating your brother in the way you did, of course," she answered coyly.
Dean responded by standing upright in front of Sam's limp body, casually pulling a .45 from the inner pockets of his leather jacket. The barrel aimed straight for Allison's opalescent skull.
"Don't you ever talk about my brother," he said menacingly. "You know nothing about him, about us. You hear me? Nothing!"
"Oh, but I do know enough," Allison said calmly. "You see, I saw you two arguing earlier today. In your car. You seemed to take each other for granted. I saw no respect in either of you two. One of you had to die, the other had to suffer the loss. It is the only way to learn the wrongness of your actions. If I had my choice, Dean, it would have been you laying here on the grass," she gestured to Sam with a smirk, "and poor Sammy, as you call him, standing in your position. But as he came to me first and my time is limited, he had to do."
"You...you..." Dean started sputtering, choking on his own tears. Sam had known all along that Dean was the target. And Dean had stayed, stayed because the temptation for a hunt was too great. The gun wavered slightly in its position, but stayed aimed at the young spirit woman.
"I what, Dean? I drowned him with phantom water so similar to the water that drowned me? He suffered, too...oh yes, I'm sure he suffered. You see, drowning isn't a nice way to die, Dean. Not at all. My brother, though, thought that was the way to get rid of me. All siblings are the same, you see. They only think of themselves."
Dean tightened his grip on the gun, clenching his teeth. "I'd stop all that talking, if I were you," he said. "Or nothing's gonna stop me from blowing you away."
Allison seemed to smile. "Oh, Dean. A little rock salt is only an irritant. "I'll be back. I shed blood in this land, I am tied to it. There is no way to get rid of me. And Sam will still be dead."
The words 'Sam' and 'dead' implanted themselves in Dean's mind. He sunk to his knees, turning back to look at Sam. He gently touched the side of his brother's face, cringing at the coldness and biting back a new flow of tears. He lifted Sam's head and placed it in his lap, unsure as to why but simply knowing that it was his instinct to do so.
"I'm so sorry, little brother," he whispered. "Sorry for starting that stupid fight. I'm glad you went to college, Sammy, I really am. I just want you to know that. It should be me, though, Sammy. I should have died, not you. I was supposed to protect you, don't you get it? You're not the one who deserved this. It's all my fault."
Dean bowed his head, body shaking silently in his grief. "You were all that I had left," he said hoarsely. "Tell Mom, Dad, Jessica, Caleb, and Pastor Jim I said hi," he said with a choked sob. "God, Sammy, I wish I could just see you again...you're my best friend, man. I love you." The last part of Dean's speech was uttered silently. It was the first time the brother had let himself say those words. Oh God, he wished he'd said them every day.
Allison cocked her head to the side. "You...did you say that you loved him?" she said with confusion.
Dean looked up at her, wet tears streaming down his cheeks, and nodded. "I just wish I would have told him," he said quietly. "Now it's too late."
If it was possible, Allison was starting to look sad. Or maybe Dean was imagining it. "You two...you two were close? But...but...you were fighting...it seemed like you hated each other..."
"We never hated each other," snarled Dean, anger returning. "We spent every waking moment together. Any two people who live that close together are gonna fight! Jeez, that was only part of it. Seems you conveniently walked out before we both apologized. I'd do anything for Sammy..." Dean stopped. "And he...he did this for me."
Allison's face contorted. "What was that?"
"Sam knew. He knew you were after me. So he came instead, to save me," Dean started to cry silently while saying this. It made the situation seem entirely more real.
"He died...for you?"
Dean nodded, a new sob threatening to burst. "And I'd just kill myself now if Sam hadn't told me to live in his goodbye note. Never have been able to deny the kid," he said softly. Dean glanced back up, eyes glistening.
"Look, I'm sorry that your brother was an ass, okay? You didn't deserve to die. But neither did Sam." Dean let out another sob, pulling Sam in closer to his chest. "He didn't."
Allison watched as Dean broke down yet again, now completely curled in upon himself and hugging his little brother to his body. And something snapped inside of her. These two were different than the others. Different from Tabitha and her three siblings, different from each brother and sister she had taken over the years. But maybe they weren't so different. Allison felt like she was swaying. Maybe it had all been wrong. Maybe she shouldn't have done what she did, shouldn't have killed anyone. Now she was like her brother.
She had been devoting herself to murder. That's what it was. She looked at what she had done and felt shame for the first time in ten years. She could have moved on, could have found peace instead of trying to get some kind of sick revenge. She could be with her parents now.
A bright light became visible, opening up from the sky. She looked down at Dean, expecting him to see it, but he remained as he was, showing no sign of recognition.
And then she knew. It was a sign. A sign for her to move on, to take back what she had done.
It was too late for the others she had taken, but something told her she could bring Sam back. She could bring him back and then go into that light, find peace forever.
"Dean," she whispered softly. "Dean."
Dean didn't even look up from Sam. "What," he groaned, truly sounding defeated. "What could you possibly say to me right now?"
"Thank you," she said with a smile. "You and Sam have helped me to see that this has all been wrong. Everything was wrong. Now I can move on."
"You know what?" said Dean, now standing up. "I don't friggin' give a damn! Great, you killed Sam and then you get to move on because you said sorry! Whoopdedoo for you!"
"You don't seem to understand," she said patiently. "There's a light. I think it's telling me to bring Sam back, telling me that it's possible. Once I do that, THEN I can move on."
Dean's choked sobs immediately ceased. "You can bring Sammy back?" he said quietly.
"Yes," she said softly. "I'm sure I can."
"Then do it!" he yelled. "Bring him back, now!"
Allison glided over the damp grass to Sam's side, looking up into the light from the night sky as she did so. It was what would give her the power to give back a life.
She placed her transparent hands over Sam's heart, a golden glow radiating immediately upon making contact with his chest. Sam's skin seemed to gain color, his lips lost the blue tinge, and warmth seemed to pour into him.
Dean watched, almost afraid to make a noise for fear it would disrupt the miracle he was witnessing.
The silence broke when Sam opened his eyes.
Dean let out a stunned sob, crawling over to where Sam lay and crying silently in relief as he watched Sam's chest rise and fall. He glanced over to Allison, who gave him a sad smile and a wave before disappearing into the night.
Dean returned attention to Sam, who was now blinking his eyes in confusion.
"Oh, God, Sammy..." whispered Dean. "Thank God."
"Dean?" said Sam shakily. "What happened? Where's Allison? I thought she...I thought she..."
"You thought she killed you," finished Dean, shaking his head.
"Uh...yeah. I just remember coming here, and there was water, all of the sudden, and she was standing off to the side, watching...it was like I was submerged in this never-ending pool. And that was the last thing I remember. I guess you stopped her before I could drown, huh?"
Dean couldn't stop the new flow of salty tears. Sam hadn't even fought it, he walked right into the trap.
Sam started to sit up, looking at Dean with concern. "Are you okay, man? What aren't you telling me?"
"I didn't stop her," he whispered. "I got here, and you were...you were..."
Sam looked away, realizing what had happened. "God, Dean, I...I'm so sorry...what happened?"
Dean shrugged. "Guess she decided murdering wasn't her deal," he said with a sigh. "Brought you back and then disappeared. Said she was moving on."
Sam was silent. After a minute, he decided to speak. "Why would she do that? I mean, after everything, why would she just change like that?"
Dean grimaced, looking up in the air. This would be a huge chick-flick moment. "Because...because, I told her..."
Dean let out a breath, making eye contact with Sam. "I told her I loved you."
Sam's eyes started to tear. "And that...that made her go?"
"Yeah, she...she, uh, goes after siblings who hate each other. She realized that we didn't, and..."
"Dean?" interrupted Sam.
"I love you too."
"Oh God, kill me now," said Dean with a smile.
"I'm serious, man. That's why I, uh..."
"That's why you were all set to kill yourself, Sammy? 'Cause I gotta tell you, if you ever try any crap like that again..."
"You'll what, Dean? Kill me?"
"Not funny, Sammy." He stood up, lending out his arm for Sam to grab a hold of. "Easy there," he cautioned.
"I'm fine, bro. Never felt better, actually."
"Yeah, bet you haven't. You just died and all, but you're fine."
Sam laughed. "Yeah, I guess."
Both brothers were now standing, facing each other.
Dean shifted uncomfortably. "I'm glad you're alive, Sammy," he said. And then, unexpectedly, he pulled Sam in for a quick hug.
After pulling apart, Sam grinned at Dean. "That was a full-on chick moment, man."
"That never happened, got it?" said Dean.
Sam shrugged, following in Dean's wake as they headed back to the motel.
"I don't do hugs, Sam."
"I know," said Sam, laughing.
Dean opened the door to the Impala, which had been waiting on the side of the dirt road. Situating himself in the driver's seat, he looked over at Sam.
No matter what he said, he was happy to see Sam in the passenger seat again.
And he wouldn't take that hug back for anything.
Wow, it's done! Please don't kill me for all the torture and angst in this chapter...but you had to know that I just couldn't kill our Sammy! I know I took the "kill me" lines from "Hunted", but they just seemed to fit there. Sorry!