Title: unforgivingly what you are
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Adrienne Rich
Warnings: spoilers for everything aired
Point of view: third
Dedication: caffienekitty, for her birthday
Notes: everyone should go see Horton Hears a Who! It's adorable.
Prompt: (Gen) Season 3 post 3.12 Dean (fated, not dark, not empowered), approaching his crossroads due date, fighting to save a rapidly darkening (empowered, but not overtly so yet) Sam from himself, stuck alone in some dire, hopeless-seeming situation, suddenly remembers writing his own epitaph in high school.
It's his last big hurrah, his final hunt. Sam's on the other side of the forest; they're pretty sure it's a black dog.
Dean's worried about his brother. Sometimes, he looks at Sam and doesn't see Sammy, skinned knees and puppy eyes. Sometimes, he looks and sees a cold-stone killer, Azazel's favorite.
He's never scared easily, but seeing a stranger in his baby brother's eyes terrifies him. He's already Christoed Sam twice.
He doesn't want to go. Less than a week left and Sam won't have anyone to guard his back, to make stupid jokes, to switch out his toothpaste and play music he hates too loud. There won't be anyone to keep him human. There won't be anyone to remind him that he's Sammy, no matter what else he becomes.
Dean doesn't want to go. Doesn't want to leave Sam all alone. But he made a deal: his soul for Sam's life. He's gotta say, he sure got the better end of the bargain. Sam's worth a hundred of him. Maybe even a thousand.
His last big hurrah. They finish this hunt, and then the Grand Canyon—and he's gone. Eternal hellfire, brimstone, wailing and gnashing of teeth—Sammy alone with some demon-chick. And no one to call him Sammy anymore.
Less than a week. A demon war on the horizon, hunters he can't trust in the distance, and—
Damn. Dean doesn't want to go. He's only ever trusted himself and Dad at Sammy's back.
Sam yells in the distance. Dean sprints that direction.
The black dog dealt with, Sam showers and falls into bed. Dean can't sleep; he lies awake and listens to Sam breathe. It's the most soothing sound in the world. He remembers being little, curling up around Sammy, only able to rest if Sam's warm baby-breath was on his cheek.
Soon he'll be gone. No more Sam, no more Sammy. Only Hell. Only Hell and everything he's ever done wrong, every mistake he's ever made.
When he leaves, he's almost sure Sammy will be gone forever, too. Will become what Azazel wanted, what Ruby is still pushing him towards.
Well, that's something he can fix. Tomorrow, he'll summon Ruby and put a Colt-bullet between her eyes. One of the last things he'll be able to do to protect Sammy.
"Quit thinkn' so hard, Dean," Sam sleepily murmurs.
"Sleep, Sammy," he responds. "Don't worry 'bout me."
"Killing me won't stop it," Ruby says.
He shoots her anyway.
Dean drives to the Grand Canyon, "Back in Black" playing on repeat. He and Sam both sing along.
In less than a week, only four days and nights, he won't have this anymore. He'll leave behind too many weapons, too much regret, an Impala, and a baby brother destined to command a demon army.
He pulls off the road, turns down the music, and sighs. "Tell me you won't do anything stupid," he says.
Sam's face turns stubborn.
"Promise me, Sammy," Dean says, and knows he's begging. "You've done your best, but there's nothing. So after I'm gone…" He looks Sam in the eyes. "Let me go."
Sam looks away. Stays silent.
"Promise me, Sammy. Please." His voice trembles. He has to know Sam won't do anything to damage his own soul.
"I can't, Dean," Sam whispers. "I won't leave you in Hell. You deserve better. And I'll get you out of there, no matter what it takes."
Dean slams his hand on the dashboard; Sam doesn't react at all.
"Don't! it's too dangerous. I chose this, knowing full well how it'd end, Sam." He wants to shake Sam until he understands. "Let me go. I can't do this if I have to worry about you."
Sam snarls, "Well, too damn bad."
"No, Dean." He twists in his seat to full-on glare. "I am not leaving you in Hell. No fucking way."
Dean stares at him. "Please."
But it's Sam's stubborn face looking at him, that set in Sam's shoulders he's never been able to beat.
"Sammy," he tries once more. "Just… don't make any deals. With anything." A moment of silence. Softly, "Please."
Finally, Sam's jaw unclenches. "Okay," he says. "I promise I won't make any deals."
Dean turns the music back up, but neither of them sing.
Ever since Broward County, Dean can't sneak out of motel rooms without waking Sam up. So when he decides to watch sunrise over the Canyon, Sam comes with him.
It's beautiful, the most gorgeous thing he's ever seen. Almost makes him believe in God.
"Dean Winchester!" a voice exclaims.
Both of them whirl around, Sam sliding in front of Dean. Dean rolls his eyes, biting in a noise of disgust. He goes around Sam, looking for the speaker.
The man is old and familiar. He's grinning, an old woman at his side. "It is you," he says.
"Um… yeah, it's me," he replies, shooting a glance at Sam. "I'm sorry, but I don't—"
"James Friedman," he introduces himself.
"Senior English." Recognition hits Dean. "Man, you were the best teacher ever, you know that?" Dean grins, holding out a hand.
Mr. Friedman shakes, then puts his arm around the woman. "My wife, Victoria."
Dean cocks his head at Sam. "My brother, Sam."
Sam gives a small, fake smile. He doesn't offer a hand.
"So, how've you been?" Mr. Friedman asks.
Dean's mind goes blank, but after a moment, his bullshit kicks in.
Later, when he's lying in bed listening to Sam lie awake, Dean remembers his senior year of highschool. It was his favorite year of schooling ever.
He should really call up Maria's brothers, make sure they're okay. Maybe if he asks Sam to watch out for them, it'll keep him safe.
Yeah, that's a good idea. Give him something to do besides mourn, at least.
He isn't even thinking about it, but one of his final assignments in Mr. Friedman's class comes back, just popping into his head: his epitaph. It had been his least favorite that year, struck him as creepy and morbid. He actually hadn't written anything until the morning it was due, was gonna claim immortality.
But as he'd watched Sam cross the parking lot, it came to him: I lived for you and have now died for you. I pray you rest gently and wait long to join me.
Dean bites his lip, holding in a desperate laugh. Maybe Sam's not the only one who can see the future.
The last day dawns beautiful. Sam can't look at Dean without tearing up. Dean doesn't want to look away.
Sam's the best thing he's ever done. The best thing in the whole world. Dean doesn't want to leave him. Doesn't want to go to Hell.
"I'm not sorry, Sam," he says. "remember that, okay? I don't regret it."
Sam ducks his head. "I know," he whispers, voice breaking.
It's his last chance to say anything. "I lived for you, Sammy," he starts, looking out over the Canyon. "My whole life, from the moment you were born. So, it just makes sense, you know?"
"Don't," Sam tells him. Sam closes his eyes, tears spilling over, pouring down his face. "Please, Dean. Just don't."
But Dean can't stop. "Don't beat yourself up, Sam, not over this. I made my decision. You…" He licks his lips, patting the sun-warmed hood beneath him. "You're better than me, Sam. You can make the world a better place. So don't waste your life trying to find me, save me."
Sam sobs, burying his face in his hands, doubling over.
Dean reaches out, cups his hand around Sam's jaw, pulls him up and over, till they're face-to-face.
"I did it for you, Sammy. And I won't ask your forgiveness." He keeps his voice soft. Now that the time is here, he's calm. He's lived his life for Sam. It's only right he dies for Sammy, too. "Just…" He lowers his hand and Sam grabs him, pulling him for the most desperate hug of his life, worse even than the one in Broward County. "Don't hate me, Sammy," he whispers into Sam's shoulder. "Don't hate me."
The sun sets. Dean hears howling. Sam still hasn't let him go, sobbing into his neck.
I lived for you
"Don't go," Sam gasps. "We can still beat this."
and have now died for you.
"No," Dean says. "We can't."
I pray you rest gently
Sam's grip is bruising, his chest heaving. "I won't let you go."
"Don't come for me." Dean slowly pulls back, hands fisted in Sam's jacket. "Live your life, Sammy. Let me go."
Sam nods. The sunlight is fully gone, a cold wind blowing.
The hounds are growling. Dean pushes off his Impala and doesn't look back.
He runs for the edge and jumps.
and never join me.