Disclaimer: I still own nothing Winchestery. It all belongs to Kripke et. al.
And because I'm a doofus I forgot to say that Faye betaed this for me. If it's any good at all, it's because of her.
It makes sense that it should feel just this way
That you slowly fade and yet
As if to say everything matters in such an invisible way. -- Poe
Sam stares, his mouth open.
Dean walks closer. "How many drugs they got you on, Sammy? You're not lookin' too sharp."
"Dean." Sam breathes the word like a prayer.
"That's right. Guess you didn't hit your head that hard, then . . . " he glances back at the curtain. There's no movement. He turns back to Sam. "Jesus Christ on a crutch, Sam, get a move on. We're getting out of here."
"But you're dead," Sam says. His voice is waving distance from hysteria.
"Good to see your Stanford education wasn't wasted," Dean hisses. "Get some scrubs out of the closet and some of those lame ass booty things. We don't have much time."
Sam feels faint. He's dreaming. He's got to be dreaming. Which is such a bitch because seeing Dean again would be so great.
But there's a hand on his shoulder--his bad shoulder--and it hurts. The hand is connected to Dean. The pain makes Sam feel like he might actually be awake. And the pressure from Dean's hand makes him think Dean is . . . real.
Tears spring to Sam's eyes and he's instantly blind. "Dean," he chokes, leaning toward his brother.
"Save the Hallmark moment for later," Dean snaps, "we've got to go." He shoots a level gaze at Sam. "Unless you want to spend the next couple months making macaroni pictures upstairs?"
Sam wipes his face. "Not really." He opens the cupboard and pulls on a pair of mismatched scrubs. Next he puts on a pair of blue gauzy booties over his bare feet.
"Okay, listen." Dean makes a pained face. "I am busting my ass trying to stay corporeal, and it's fucking uncomfortable. I'm running out of time and that means you're running out of time."
"But Dean, how--"
"Shut it," Dean grits. "This is what we're doing. You're Dr. Kildare and I'm Mr. Patient. You're going to walk Mr. Patient to the exit and then we're hauling ass. Got it?"
Sam thinks: Not in the least. But he nods and years of training and teamwork push him into action. He puts an arm around Dean and it feels so good he almost loses it again. But he pushes the emotion away and leads Dean to the curtain. He peeks through. There's one nurse. Nobody else. They go through the curtain and down the hallway. A red arrow on the wall points left and says: Main Entrance.
They're standing outside beneath a gray cataract sky before a full minute's passed.
"Okay Dean," Sam says. "What the hell is going on?"
But Dean is gone.
Sam grimaces. Shit. Now what? Is he having a breakdown or is Dean really here? He prefers the Dean option so he works his way through the parking lot, weaving in and out of cars. Dean or no Dean, he has to get out of here. And then, at the far end of the lot, he sees it.
And Dean is leaning against it, arms crossed over his chest. And he's grinning like a smug bastard.
And Sam thinks: Please don't let me wake up.
Sam has trouble keeping track of time. One minute is several hundred feet from his brother, the next moment he's leaning against the front fender. Next to Dean. He's this close to crying again. After a moment of silence he says: "It's good to see you."
Dean sighs and says: "Sam."
The sound of his name, the sound of Dean's voice breaks him. Sam's down on the ground, hands over his face, sobbing.
Dean's voice is neutral; there's no reproach, no recrimination. "Come on Sammy."
Through his tears Sam says, "If this is a dream I don't want to wake up. If I wake up I won't be able to stand it."
"It's not a dream."
"Then I'm imagining you again. I did that before, Dean. I went crazy." His voice is broken glass. "I guess--I guess I still am."
"No you're not," Dean says. "Granted, I do think you're sort of a nut bar, but you're not crazy." Pause. "Much."
"Dean," Sam whispers. "You're dead. I killed you."
"Whoa. Hold on there, Samantha. I'm pretty sure that was an Aswang. You are ugly, but I can tell the difference between you and an Aswang. You know, if the lighting is good."
"Stop making jokes," Sam begs. "I can't. I can't do this."
Dean bends down beside Sam and looks him in the eyes. "Do what?"
"Let myself believe."
"That you're really here."
Dean rolls his eyes. "Why the hell not? With all the stuff we've seen and done, you can't believe your brother might hang around as a ghost?"
"I don't know what I believe." Sam studies his hands a little too intently. "But I know what I want." He turns to Dean. "I want you to be alive."
Dean shrugs. "I want me to be alive too, but that's not working out for me right now."
"I'm so sorry, Dean. I thought I had your back. I really did. I fucked up and you died, " Sam whispers. He whispers so his voice won't crack, so he can get the words out before the pain in his throat squeezes his windpipe shut. "I wish it had been me, I really do. Every morning I wake up and wish it had been me." An ugly laugh bubbles in his throat. "Dad died to save you and I undid it. I wrecked everything."
He smacks the back of his head against the fender. "Fuck!" More tears leak down his face. His eyes hurt from crying. He wonders if the tears will ever stop. It's like he's carrying around an ocean in his head.
"Stop it," Dean snaps and he almost sounds like John. His tone of voice is clear: Do not fuck with me. "I will say this once, Sam. You are not to blame. Do you understand? There was nothing you could have done. I was too slow. The Aswang got me. End of story. It is not your fault."
Sam doesn't respond. He sits, head bowed, still crying. It is his fault. It is.
"Are you hearing me?" He taps Sam on the top of the head with one finger. "Am I getting through?" No it's not.
Sam makes an anguished noise deep in his throat. He brushes Dean's hand away.
Dean bends lower and grasps Sam's chin. He lifts his brother's head. "Am I getting through?" he repeats.
Sam nods hesitantly. "Y-yes." Maybe Dean is right. Dean is right so often. He doesn't know.
Dean nods. "Good." He gestures toward the front seat. "We're gonna have to continue the weep fest in the car. I'm not sure if anyone will be looking for you or not."
Sam stands and brushes off the seat of his scrubs. He sighs. "Better to be safe than sorry." He looks a question at Dean. The keys?
"In the ignition," Dean replies.
Sam opens the door and slides in behind the wheel.
Dean does not open the door. But he appears next to Sam in the passenger seat. Sam stares at him. "That's . . . that's just freaky," he mutters.
"You're freaky," Dean grouses.
Sam stares at the steering wheel. "I don't even know where to go. I don't have any money, my stuff's back at the hospital. How did you get the car, anyway?"
Dean shrugs. "I called Bobby."
Sam makes a face. "What? You called Bobby? Do your minutes roll over when you die?"
Dean rolls his eyes. "Laugh it up, Geek. I saved our asses. I contacted Bobby and he came and got the car from the impound. At least he was open to communication from me, unlike some people I know." Dean frowns and mumbles what sounds like: "Although he did shoot me the one time with rock salt."
"Excuse me for being sad," Sam glares. "I can't help it if my aura was the wrong color for you."
Dean glares back. Then he chuckles. "Yeah man, you have ugly ass aura. It's mauve."
Sam rolls his eyes but he laughs too. "I must be crazy," he mutters.
"Dude. I think we've already established that."
Sam turns the key in the ignition and the Impala roars to life. It's a beautiful sound. "Where to?"
"There's a motel right down the road. Bobby left some money in the glove compartment and there's some clothes in the backseat. He said he couldn't find Freaking Giant Size so you'll just have to make do."
Sam's smile falters when he looks in the rearview mirror. Dean's reflection isn't there.
Sam tells Dean a little about the hospital on the way to the motel.
Dean tells Sam what it's like to be dead.
They talk about Dad and the Aswang and the yellow-eyed demon.
After Sam checks them into a dumpy room at the Evergreen Lodge (which has no trees and is not a lodge) he tells Dean about his vision.
"Why do you think the demon wants her dead?" Dean wonders. "You said she has powers like you, right?"
Sam shrugs. "I don't know if the demon wants her dead or a demonwants her dead." He sighs and rubs his face. He's so tired. "I guess I'll call her tomorrow and see if we can meet. I want to make sure she's okay and tell her about my vision."
Dean sits on his bed and the springs creak under his weight. "Don't you think that will freak her out?"
"I think it will freak her out more if a car runs her down," Sam states.
Dean can't argue with that.
They sit in silence a moment until Sam asks: "How does it work?" Being a ghost. What's it like?
Dean lifts an eyebrow. "How does what work?" I don't know. It just is.
Sam wakes up every half hour or so to check if Dean's still on the other bed.
Dean's voice floats through the darkness. "Dude. Don't you ever sleep?"
The dark hides Sam's face so he's honest. "I'm afraid you'll be gone when I wake up."
"Even if I am gone, I'll come back." There's a dry chuckle. "Where else am I gonna go?"
Sam's voice is tentative. "I could. . . I could burn your bones. I know that's what I'm supposed to do. I should let you go." There's a long pause. "That's what a good brother would do."
"What, did you take a poll? How do you know what good brother would do?"
"We burned Dad."
Dean's voice is hard. "That's different."
"Because," Dean flails. "Just because it was Dad. If you died--" Dean stops.
The dark feels thick.
"You'd what?" Sam presses.
"I just don't know how much of a hurry I'd be in to toast your bones," Dean says casually. "It's nice to have company once in a while, you know?"
Sam smiles. He knows.
The next morning Dean is gone.
Sam jolts fully awake and jerks upright. He looks around the room, heart thumping. "Dean?"
He hurries to the bathroom and looks in. It's empty.
There's a knock on the door.
Sam jumps, startled, but hurries to unlock it.
Dean stands there holding a cup of coffee. "Rise and shine."
Sam grins. "Dude, how can you do that?"
Dean shrugs and moves past Sam. "It's just my natural awesomeness," he says. "That, and I'm a pretty kick ass ghost." Sam takes the coffee gratefully. "Although I think I like the term revenant better. Sounds cooler."
Sam sets the coffee down and studies his brother. Dean looks good. He looks solid. He looks alive. He doesn't cast a shadow. "Dean," he says gently. "Are you okay with this? I mean, I know you aren't okay, but is there anything I can do to--to help?"
"I'm fine, Sammy," his brother says lightly. "It's not like I gotta worry about hangovers or raw heads anymore."
"I know," Sam says quickly. "I just . . . I'm just . . . sorry. You know?"
Dean scowls. "Don't start that shit again, man. I mean it."
Sam stares down at his coffee, silent.
Dean sighs. "Look. Everything's the same."
Sam looks up, his expression is: Are you completely high?
Dean waves the look away. "Okay, so not everything, but it's still me and you hunting, right? We're gonna go find the hair puller chick and we'll move on to the next gig. We'll keep hunting." Dean locks eyes with Sam. "That is what you want, right?"
Sam doesn't answer right away. He tries to imagine himself in college or with a job. He can't. The world has flipped and the only normal he knows now is with Dean. "I don't know what else to do," he finally admits. "I don't know what to do besides hunt."
"You're pretty good at crying," Dean says. "Maybe there's a future for you in that."
Sam flips Dean the finger in reply.
They're on the way to meet Paula.
Sam drives and Dean is beside him. Sam keeps casting surreptitious glances in Dean's direction and he's smiling like it's Christmas. Every day.
"What the hell?" Dean demands, "Is your problem?"
Sam grin grows even wider. "I'm just . . . glad. To have you back. I--I missed you."
Dean groans. "Come on Sam, haven't we had enough chick flick moments yet?"
Sam's grin slips into a smirk. "Nope."
"Well you're wrong."
Sam's eyebrows lift. "Oh, really? What are you gonna do about it?"
"I'm gonna haunt your ass," Dean growls.
Sam yawns and points to his face. "Uh-huh. And this is my scared face."
"Then how about this?" Dean leans over and whacks the back of Sam's head.
"Hey," Sam grumps, rubbing his head. "I thought ghosts were supposed to be incorporeal."
"I can, uh, corporealize when I want to," Dean says. As an afterthought. "And I'm a revenant."
"Classic come back, junior."
Paula sits on a swing. She pushes herself forward, lets herself swing backward. Back and forth. Back forth. She grins up at Sam, her face bright. "Hey Salt Man! So you're playing hooky from the hospital."
Sam takes the swing beside her. "Yup. I met my quota of crazy." He shrugs. "For this week."
She laughs and peers at Dean. "So you're Dean, right? You look good for a dead guy. You almost look real."
"So do you," Dean snarks. Then grins. "Thanks for your help, by the way. With Sam." He looks vaguely uncomfortable.
Sam tries to hide his delighted smile behind a cough.
Dean leans against the picnic table across from the swings. He puts his hands in his pockets.
The day is overcast with a bitter wind. Paula shivers and rubs her hands together. "So can you tell me about the vision?" she asks Sam. "You said it had to do with me, right?"
Sam's mood darkens. "Yeah. I saw you, um, I saw you get hit by a car." He looks at Paula intently. "But don't worry. I'm going to do whatever I can to help you, okay? I want to make sure you stay safe."
Paula lifts an eyebrow. "You mean the way you kept your brother safe?" she asks.
Sam flinches at the words. But he can't deny their truth.
"Wait just a minute," Dean starts angrily.
"You're quite a guy, Samuel." Paula laughs softly. She stands and steps away from the swing.
"You kill your own brother and he doesn't leave you, even in death." Paula shakes her head in mock disgust. "But then Dean always was loyal to a fault." Her eyes flicker and they're yellow. She stares hard at Dean, her voice a hiss. "Aren't you?"
Sam's throat goes dry. His voice is sandpaper. "Who are you?"
"I'll give you a hint, boys." She smiles a wicked grin. "Daddy says hi."
"You bastard!" Dean snarls. He rushes the Demon, hands fisted, his hate a weapon.
The Demon flicks a lazy hand toward Dean and just like that Dean is gone.
Sam spins, taking in the empty park. "Where is he?" he grits at The Demon. "What did you do to him?"
The Demon sighs deeply. "Lamentably, I did nothing more than inconvenience him. Now that he's no longer human, he's not so easy to control. Unlike you." Sam feels himself fly through the air and then he is smashed into the the metal ladder leading up to the monkey bars. Breath rushes out of him and he struggles to stay conscious. The Demon smiles and Sam slides up the ladder, his feet moving off the ground. The bars press painfully into his back.
"Leave me alone!" Sam growls.
"I will," The Demon agrees. "But not quite yet." He runs his hands down the sides of Paula's body. "I'm not done trying on my new outfit." The Demon makes a rueful face. "Of course, I'll just have to throw it away when I'm done. I hate wearing the same thing twice," the yellow eyes grin at Sam, "don't you?"
"Don't hurt her," Sam grits, struggling to move. "She didn't do anything!"
Sam feels more pressure and there's a snap in his chest. He has time to think: holy fuck my rib just broke before the pain drags a scream from him. And then another.
The Demon walks slowly toward Sam. He smile warmly, like they're old friends.
"But you see Sam, she did. When I came to see her last night she told me Sammy warned her about a man with yellow eyes. She didn't want to play on my side, Sam, and I take that personal." There's another snap and Sam screams again. He's wringing with sweat and breathing is agony. He eyes roll from side to side, desperate for someone to hear his cries, for someone to help. He's desperate for Dean.
The Demon whispers in Sam's ear. "Whaddya say, you wanna play on my team? It's gonna be a real good game. And you can be my starting player," Paula's lips curve in a horrible smile and Sam's eyes squeeze shut. oh god help me dean please help me anyone please
"Let's be friends," The Demon croons softly. "Maybe I'll let your little friend go."
"Go to hell!" Sam screams. "Get away from me." There's something wet on his lips. He spits blood. "Get out of her!"
The Demon studies Sam's face. "You really want me to get out of Paula?" He speaks confidentially, "To tell you the truth, Sammy, I think this suit isn't quite up to par."
"Get out!" The pain rips through Sam and he's crying, "please."
The Demon shrugs, considering. And then there's a smile. Teeth fill Sam's world. "For you Sam? Anything."
And then the pain stops. No, not quite. It's pushed aside. It goes into a drawer in the corner and the drawer slams shut. There's something new. A presence. A weight on his soul and Sam realizes, although it's too late to do anything but scream, that The Demon is in him.
Sam can't see. He feels his body move, but he can't tell where. It feels a little like the time he and Dean played hide and seek and he hid in the closet. He can hear the Demon in his head. "It's time to go Sammy. You're coming with me." More movement and Sam is terrified. He can't get out, he's trapped in his own body, he wants The Demon out out out.
Another voice, distant: Sam! Can you hear me?
Dean? Sam tries to turn toward the sound but he can't get his body to work. This is how Meg felt, he realizes. please Dean please
Sam can feel the smile on his face, hear the words come from his mouth, but they're not his words. "Hey, Dean. I can't wait to tell Dad that you're dead. It's a little ironic."
Get out of him you sick fuck.
"Is that any way to talk to your brother?"
No, but you're not my brother.
Laughter bubbles in Sam's throat. "You got me Dean. Busted."
Sam concentrates as hard as he can and reaches out toward Dean. He can't move his body, but he thinks maybe he can sense him. The Demon bends down toward Paula. She's on her hands and knees, crying. She tries to crawl away.
The Demon reaches out and snags the back of her shirt with one hand. Sam's hand. He can feel the fabric. He's screaming.
Sam's face takes on an annoyed expression. "Your brother seems to be having a bit of a tantrum. The sooner he gets over this whole sanctity of life thing the better it will be for all of us." The Demon smiles. "Luckily, you can help with that Paula."
She's crying harder, "--no, please Sam, what did I do, please--" but Sam's arm yanks her backwards and the words are cut off.
Sam mutters to himself: Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate. He can feel a spark of pain burst in his head. He squeezes his inner eye shut and imagines Dean. Dean in his jeans and black t-shirt. The old leather coat, dusty and cracked. The tilt of his head. His mind fills with Dean and he pulls with every ounce of strength he has. Come on, he grits. COME ON!
And the pain is stronger now. It grows claws that sink into his skull. The Demon feels it too and his grip on Paula falters. With a hoarse shriek Sam manages to reach one hand--his hand--toward Dean and Dean takes it.
They are the circuit.
Two parts equal the whole.
Sam's power and Dean's energy connect.
Sam sees (more accurately feels) a burst of light. It shoots out of him like an electric ripple and Paula is thrown several yards away. Dean's hand is torn from Sam's and Sam can feel the weight lift just a fraction. He screams for Dean and pushes (like the china cabinet, move the china cabinet) and starts to choke as something pours out of his throat.
There's a loud rushing in Sam's ears and the pain whistles like a rocket and then the rocket explodes and there's nothing left.
Sam's chest is on fire.
His head is in agony.
He can't breath.
Sam emits a choked gurgle and tries to open his eyes.
He manages the task on the second try.
He can't hear much beyond the roaring in his ears. His pain sounds like the ocean.
Eventually, he hears Dean's voice and breathing becomes a little easier.
He tries to speak and there's another choked sound. He flails a hand toward the voice. "D. . .ean."
"Sammy." Dean's voice is gentle so that means Sam must be pretty bad off. He turns his head with some effort. His brother is a foot away. One hand is on Sam's arm, the other is on Paula's shoulder.
Paula. It come back to him. The Demon in Paula. He shivers. The Demon in him.
Paula is shaking. Her face is pallid, her eyes too wide.
Sam tries to tell her how sorry he is, so very sorry, but his mouth isn't cooperating with his brain and it comes out "'m . . . orry."
In the distance a siren wails like an angry child.
"We have to get out of here," Dean says to Sam. To Paula he asks, "Can you get home? Are you okay?"
Paula's chin trembles and she shakes her head. "Not really."
"Do you want to come with us?"
Her mouth twists into a grimace. "Not really."
"Then you go," Dean tell her. "Sorry about all this."
Paula nods absently, but remains on the ground.
Dean puts an arm around Sam's shoulder. "Okay, Sam. You ready? On the count of three. One . . . two . . . three."
Dean pulls him up and Sam bites down on a scream. He can feel his ribs move and the pain is a hammer. His vision blurs and he sways unsteadily, but Dean has him.
"Can I be a . . . ghost with you?" Sam slurs.
Dean guides Sam much faster than Sam wants to go. "Shut up, Geek Boy," he mutters. "Only one of us can be a ghost at a time. It's like a rule."
"Is not. A rule," Sam grumbles.
The walk to the Impala is endless. Sam's skin is a sickly gray and sweat runs down his face in sheets. His feet won't work together and Dean ends up dragging him most of the way.
When Dean finally deposits him into the passenger seat Sam groans and his head droops against his chest.
Dean hurries around the car to the driver's door. Then stops.
He doesn't think he can drive. He's not sure if he's. . . solid enough.
His brain reels. The sirens are much louder and Sam looks like shit. Not to mention out cold.
What to do?
Absurdly he thinks: How many revenants does it take to drive a car? Answer: None, they can't hold the fucking wheel.
He slides in behind the wheel and starts the car, biting his lip. Please work. The Impala purrs to life and Dean pats the dash affectionately. I missed you too, baby.
He puts the car in drive and squeals out of the parking lot. He's tense and hunched in the seat the whole way to the hotel. He has visions of himself disappearing and the driverless car--with Sam trapped inside--smashing into a tree. Or careening off a bridge. Or hitting another car head on.
"Dean?" Sam lifts his head awkwardly. "You drivin'?"
"Looks that way," Dean says, casting a worried glance at Sam's gray face. "How you feelin'?"
Sam's head falls back against the head rest. "I've felt better."
Dean smiles. "That I believe."
They make it back to the motel with the car in one piece. Dean helps Sam into the room and onto a bed.
Sam blinks up at Dean and smiles. In the darkened room, the blood on Sam's face looks black. Dean gets a washcloth and cleans him up as best he can.
"I took care of you like this," Sam murmurs. "But you were dead."
"Yeah, well, you're not." Dean regards his brother, cataloging bruises. "I've gotta get the first aid kit from the car. Give you some pain pills and bind those ribs up."
The sound of The Demon's voice flashes in Sam's mind and he flinches. The sound of his voice but not his voice. The feeling of being bound. "Don't leave," Sam blurts out.
Dean hesitates. "I've got to get the first aid, Sam. I'll be right back." He looks over his shoulder at Sam. "I promise."
Sam manages a slight nod and clutches the sheet in his hands.
The next few days are a blur of pain drenched sleep. No matter how Sam lays his ribs hurt.
Every time he wakes his eyes scan the room for Dean. And Dean is always there, watching over him. My guardian angel. Sam realizes that even when Dean was alive, that's what he was. Even in death his job hasn't changed. Sam feels the guilt squeeze his already aching ribs, but below the stained veneer of guilt is relief. He is so thankful Dean is with him.
Once, Sam wakes to find Dean sitting in a chair beside the bed.
Dean offers a crooked smile. "Hey lazy bones."
Sam blinks. "You came back," he mutters.
Dean frowns. "I've been sitting here for the past two hours, Sam. What are you talking about?"
Sam rolls his head back and forth on the pillow. "No," he whispers. "You came backto me." Thank you.
Dean elbows Sam lightly. "Where else am I going to go? I gotta keep on eye on you." I came back as much for me as for you, Sam. Maybe more.
His headache is better on the third day. Dean procures some soup at some point and alternately cajoles and nags Sam into eating.
They don't talk about The Demon.
Dean doesn't mention Paula does not return his calls.
Dean flips through the channels. He gives the soap opera characters fake dialogue that makes Sam laugh and his ribs hurt. Dean eventually turns on a game show and they take turns commenting on the varying lameness of the prizes.
By the fourth day Sam is moving around the motel room on his own.
That afternoon Sam asks: "Were you with me in the hospital?"
Dean looks surprised. And then uncomfortable. He purses his lips and nods. "Yeah. Not right away. It took me a little bit to figure out where I was. What I was. But when I figured it out I tracked you down."
Sam rubs a hand over his wounded chest. "I wish I could have seen you."
Dean's face tightens. His jaw works for a moment. He says, "Sometimes I wish I hadn't been able to see you."
Sam lifts his head to get a better look at his brother. "Really? Why?"
Dean's face takes on a look of misery. "Because I was helpless. You couldn't see me, I couldn't talk to you and you were . . . you were . . ." Dean trails off.
"Sort of messed up," Sam finishes. He cringes at the memory of his weakness.
Dean snorts in disbelief. "Sort of messed up? Dude, you were seriously fucked up. And I'm sorry about that." Í'm sorry I left you. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you.
"Don't be sorry. I'm—I'm fine."
Dean's look says, Fine, my ass.
Sam pushes away the memories of the loneliness. Of being lost. "Okay," he concedes, "I'm not fine yet. But I think," he meets Dean's eyes, " . . . I think I will be." I'll try to be okay for you. I'll try to forgive myself for you.
"Well," Dean reflects, "you always were a little crazy, so don't expect any miracles or anything."
Dean goes back to flipping channels. After a moment he grins. "Sweet! Mythbusters is on! I hope it's the one where they try to blow up the toilet."
Sam pretends to watch the television.
But mostly he watches Dean.
They're both sitting on the hood of the Impala.
Sam studies Dean's silhouette. "I would have done anything to keep you alive," he says quietly. "You know that, right?"
Dean rubs a hand across his chin. Then sighs. "I know."
Sam's afraid to ask, but he has to know. "How long?"
"How long what?"
"Until you . . .have to go?"
Dean grimaces. "Dude. This isn't Beetlejuice. It's not like I have a handbook." He shrugs off Sam's worry. "But I'm not going anywhere."
"If you start to freak out and go all evil I'm gonna have to burn your bones," Sam finally says.
"If you start to freak out and go all evil I'm gonna have break your bones." Dean responds.
Sam snorts out a laugh. He closes his eyes, enjoys the moment.
"Oh, before I forget, here." Something smacks Sam lightly in the chest.
Sam looks down. Dean's amulet is in his lap. Sam feels the familiar stinging in his eyes and blinks back tears. "Dean . . ."
"That's yours now. I don't think a revenant has much need for a protection amulet. You, on the other hand, are a walking demon magnet." This is proof I'm with you. Even when you can't see me.
Sam's fingers trace the chord, the smooth curve of the silver. "Thanks," Sam says hoarsely. He slips it over his head and tucks the amulet beneath his t-shirt. He leans toward his brother but Dean puts up a hand.
"Dude. If you try to hug me you'll need to use that amulet against me."
Sam makes a face. "You are such a jerk."
Dean laughs and slides off the hood. Sam follows and they both get in the car.
Sam turns the key in the ignition. "So where to?" I'm glad you're here.
Dean gestures to the newspaper clipping on the dashboard. "You interested in those horse mutilations over Minnesota?" Me too.
Sam flips on the stereo and inserts a tape. Crazy Train blares out of the speakers.
Dean flashes Sam a look of surprise. "Ozzy? What about all your folky indie weepy emo crap?"
A corner of Sam's mouth twitches. "Driver picks the music, passenger shuts his cake hole," he intones.
Dean stares at Sam for a long moment, then he grins.
Sam can tell Dean is pleased about the music. Sam grins back.
The road unwinds before him.
The engine rumbles beneath him.
And Dean is beside him.
He can ask for nothing more.