Down Another Road

Author: Cheryl W.

Disclaimer: I do not own Dean, Sam or any rights to Supernatural, nor am I making any profit from this story.

Author's Note: I absolutely wasn't going to post this because it seemed way too lame …but with some awesome compliments and support from 2 wonderful friends of mine (Heather03nmg and ani-maniac494) I'm taking the plunge. I know I should be working on "translations" and I am but I just couldn't get my head in that happier fic setting without salting and burning the "ghosts" that AHBL left lingering in my mind. Hope you find something worthwhile in this ramble. (So yes, it's another self therapy session that I'm torturing you of charge). Unbetaed so all mistakes and stupid plot ideas are mine alone.

Summary:It wasn't supposed to end this way. Tag to AHBL:1 No slash

It wasn't supposed to end this way! Good was supposed to win out over evil! My brother's compassionate heart, the losses he had suffered, the sacrifices he had made in this life for strangers, it should have saved him instead of condemned him.

My voice is hoarse from yelling, from pleading with him but he doesn't listen, won't listen, can't listen. Our paths have heartlessly been diverged, our seemingly unbreakable connection has been severed, my voice, my plead, my desperation…it doesn't exist in the world he now travels. I wonder if memories of me comfort him or destroy him or if they are of equal measures as mine are of him.

My arms wrap around him, hold him, beg him to don't do this, don't end things this way but he doesn't know I'm there anymore, can't feel the terrible trembling in my arms, doesn't discern that it's not rain soaking his clothing but my tears. But I can't let go, can't accept this, can't let him die like this, never like this.

My words are gasps between sobs in his ear but they don't even make a sound, don't even stir the air and I know a fate worse than death. Of being there, of seeing my brother, of touching him…but he never knows it, never senses my presence, has not turned on an EMF since I've come back, doesn't hear it's wail, doesn't know I'm here, that I haven't left him, that I couldn't leave him.

Unknowingly Dean breaks my hold as he brings his hands up, looks down at the gun in his hands as he squats on the left side of the Impala, his back against the dirt layered black paint. I don't need to stand up to know what lays on the other side of the Impala, and the voice coming through the bullhorn doesn't have the ability to say anything to sway my brother's plan.

Dean always did have risky plans but this….I can see where his next move, know what's going through his too sharp, too foolish mind, can practically feel what's searing through his heart. I can know all this, not because I've been blessed with any supernatural insight but because Dean's discarded his mask, has let the world see the pain ravaging his soul, has dared anyone to approach him, to challenge him, to kill him.

And today fourteen state troopers have taken up that gauntlet, are willing to give my brother what he's been wanting. "Dean, don't do this! Please, Dean, don't do this!" I choke out, my spectral hands latching onto his lapels, wanting to shake him, to stop him. "You deserve to live, Dean! You can find happiness in this life because you deserve it, Dean. Out of all of us, you've earned it the most." Sliding my hands up to frame his face, I whisper in desperation, "I want you to be happy, to live, Dean. If you want to save me, to free me, than save yourself Dean. Put down the gun."

But when Dean's head comes up, when his eyes unknowingly stop level with mine, I know that Dean will not stray from the course he has plotted. Falling back on my hunches, I watch him release the magazine clip and slide it from the gun and whatever constituted my gut drops to my feet. "No…" I brokenly sob because this is more than I can bear, this final act is proving a thousand times over to me why Dean deserves happiness, why I idolized my brother, why I love him beyond the boundardies of life and death. With calm resolve, Dean ejects the bullet from the barrel of the gun, doesn't bother to catch it with his quick reflexes but lets it ping against the concrete and flip twice before it stills on the ground.

The gun is useless but he tightens the grip he has on it, readies himself and I can see relief flicker in his eyes like a hostage that's being finally sent free. "You don't have to do this, Dean. You've always been the strong one, can't you see that. You don't need me or Dad to survive…it's us that always needed you, that needed your love, your strength."

I almost jerk when his name comes from his lips, "Sammy…" and hope flares in me that he's heard me, that he can finally sense me, knows that it's my hands latching onto his arms, my sobs that he hears amid the police sirens and negotiators empty words. But his eyes don't lighten in acknowledgement but instead darken and when the rest of the words rip from his hoarse throat I know he believes I've left him alone, that I abandoned him, that I betrayed him.

"It's just too hard, man, being alone."

The sight of tears pooling into his eyes and slipping down his cheek hurts me deeper, more fierce than a dead person should ever be able to feel.

As my own tears track my face, I watch Dean shake his head, swipe at the tears and draw in a steadying breath, his resolve set in granite. "I don't want to do it anymore, Sammy. I can't. Forgive me Sammy but I can't fight any more battles, can't bear to fail more people…like I failed you. I did the best I could without you, Sam and I know it wasn't enough and I'm sorry for that. And if you and I met up again and you …you want to play it like we're strangers…I won't hold that against you, man. I know I'm shamed you, shamed Dad."

"No, Dean! Never!" I protest but the rest of my words never come, instead I scream, "No, Dean! No!" as my brother grips the gun, closes his eyes a second and then steps from behind the Impala, makes himself an easy target as he raises his empty, useless gun. "No!!!!!" rips from me as the gunfire consumes every sound, as bullets slam into Dean's body, spin him around.

Instinctively I run for him, wrap my useless arms around him, wanting to cushion his fall, to hold him maybe this last time before fate spins our paths apart forever. To my surprise, I feel the weight of his body in my hold, realize that he's not falling anymore, see that his eyes are meeting my own, that his soul has finally acknowledged my own. "Sammy…" he chokes out, surprise and joy in his voice even as blood splatters his lips.

"I'm here, Dean. I'm here. I never left you, big brother. I couldn't," I confess, sinking to the ground, my brother's dying body in my arms, against my chest. "We're brothers, jerk. We watch out for each other, no matter what right?" Tears still seep from my eyes but it surprises me when Dean raises his hand, when his fingers brush away my tears and I lean into his touch.

"Don't cry, Sammy," he soothes me amid his own agonizing pain, as his grasp on this world begins to slip from his strong, calloused hands that now fall from my face

"It shouldn't end like this Dean, not for you," I choke out, my hand coming up to cup his face. With my arm around his back, I draw his limp body closer to mine, "I wanted you to be happy, to be safe, to live, Dean. It's why I didn't leave you, couldn't leave you, not until I knew you'd be OK without me."

"Too lonely…too hard… Sammy. Couldn't…couldn't go on ..anymore…was tired…too tired…" his words are barely audible now, blood choking him, coating his lips, running down his chin.

"I know, Dean. I know," I whisper, pulling him fully into my arms, letting his chin come to rest on my shoulder, feeling his breath flutter in my ear. "You saved a lot of people, Dean. I'm proud of you, Dean, proud that you're my brother. I lo.." my breath deserts me as my brother vanishes, as my arms no longer hold onto him and as I look up in alarm, only darkness surrounds me. "Dean! Dean?!" I yell, coming to my feet, turning around, desperate to see some light, to see my brother, to sense, to feel the soul that I know better than my own.

But the void is black, empty, merciless. "No!!" I yell, hands raised in fists, raging against the unfairness of this fate, at the cruelty of this latest vision. "It doesn't end like that! You're lying! It doesn't end like that! It can't!! Dean!!!"

I jolt as a hand lands on my shoulder, am started to blink and find the void gone and the Impala encompassing me. My head whips over to the driver's seat and I fling myself at Dean, wrap my hands around him tightly, barely noticing or caring that I've trapped his arms in my bearhug that the car is swerving toward a tree.

"Crap, Sam!!!!" Dean shouts, slamming on the brakes, sending the Impala into a skid, maneuvering the car to a stop a few inches from the tree even with his hands barely touching the steering wheel. Turning to me, Dean pries my arms from around him, gives me a shove in the chest, "Dude we almost died!"

"I know," I breathlessly say, knowing the truth better than he ever can, ever will. "But we won't, I won't, you won't. Not like that, not ever like that," I vow and I can tell by his wide-eyed worried look that he thinks I've finally snapped. I laugh out loud because I've missed that look, how I've missed that look. Before he can comment, I'm leaning over the seat, rummaging through the items on the floor of the backseat until my hands latch onto what I seek.

Sliding again back into my seat, I smirk as Dean's eyebrows raise in confusion as I sit there with a bag of rock salt on my lap. My brother's expression goes from confused to worried and censorious as I lean over toward him and pour out a generous line of salt on his lap and across the length of the floorboards of the Impala. "Something you wanna tell me?" Dean asks, his voice tight, worried as he lets me pour salt in around us in his precious Impala.

And I know what he's asking but all I can think of is what I wanted to say to him as he was dying but never got the chance. "You're my brother and I love you and there's no way we're stopping for food tonight."

"Ever?" Dean asks, accepting my lunacy with steadfast trust.

"Well…the stopping for food is negotiable…that other stuff, isn't."

"I can live with that,"Dean says and pushes the Impala speedometer to 100 mph.

'Yeah, you'll live with that…and so will I' I think, a smile on my face as we fly by the road to the café that almost cost me more than I could ever bear to lose.

The end

So how lousy was it?

Have a great day


P.S And I really am working on Translations next chapter!