1) Normally I like angst. Fictional tragedy is appealing to me. If you've read my work you know this. However...there are occasions wherein I much prefer tragedy of my own making, and I experience the overwhelming urge to fix tragedies that are NOT of my making. This is one such occasion. Please see note number three and refer to my empty tissue box.
2) I also have a passion for exploring established scenes from an alternative POV
3) Woobie! (see, I do have a heart)
4) Jensen really does remind me of Paul Newman
There were certain sounds almost universally considered beautiful – birdsong, laughter, a gentle rain, the purr of a kitten...
At that moment the most beautiful sound in Sam's world was his brother's voice. It was mixed with a distinctive Deanish combination of fear and aggravation, relief and joy Sam had heard countless times before. It was a living voice, and that meant the most. Dean had not met the same fate as Ava's Brady when the demon came. He was alive, and he was here, now.
Sam felt a surge of regret that Andy would never know he'd become the hero of the story. Dean's presence was no doubt the result of his efforts.
His adrenaline rush from the fight was fading. Pain and exhaustion pulled at every limb as he stumbled down the road to meet his brother and Bobby. That son-of-a-bitch Jake had dislocated his shoulder, cracked more than a couple of ribs. Sam would make sure their first stop on the way out would be a hospital or a clinic. They'd pop his shoulder back into place, wrap up his ribs, hand him a bottle of Vicodin and he'd be good to go. He needed to get back in the game quickly. What was coming...it wasn't going to be good. They'd need him.
"Sam! Look out!"
Pain addled his senses and slowed his reflexes. He didn't even have a chance to absorb the warning itself let alone turn around to see what it meant. Belatedly he realized it had to be Jake.
Ah, shit. If he has the knife...
The blade was dull and rusty. Sam had done his best to get it to hold an edge but it had been too far gone. Using it to cut or slash would be a crap shoot. It might not do too much damage. The point though, it was still pretty sharp. A strong man could definitely get it to stab through soft human flesh. A very strong man, like Jake, could get it through bone.
The initial impact drove the air from Sam's lungs, made him stagger. It wasn't until he sucked in a breath that the pain exploded throughout his back and into his chest. His knees were buckling beneath him but he didn't fall. Pinned like a butterfly on the knife still held in Jake's hand, he remained standing, and just for a second, a split second, he thought it was going to be okay.
Dean's anguish shattered this perception.
Jake jerked the blade downward. The dull steel cracked through another rib, tore a ragged gash through vital organs, opened veins and arteries. Blood rushed into places where blood shouldn't go, bursting out in a rapid flow increased by a wildly beating heart. Sam heard himself groan and thought, disjointedly - at least he missed my heart. A blow to his heart would have meant an almost instantaneous death. After a moment's reflection, he wondered if that wouldn't have been preferable.
The knife came free with another burst of pain. Sam moaned. He heard the sound of running footsteps as he finally dropped to his knees, letting out the breath he'd been holding. He desperately tried to draw another but it wouldn't come. Both lungs had already collapsed. Blood filled his chest, slowly suffocating him. His heart began to falter. The connection between mind and body had been severed. His body was failing, unable to obey even the simplest of commands.
Strong arms kept him from face planting into the mud. He sagged into them, finding comfort in their familiarity. He dragged Dean down to the ground with him as his body collapsed in on itself like a wilted flower.
Remaining upright, raising his head from Dean's shoulder were no longer priorities. Breathing had become a distant dream. Beating back the darkness, keeping his eyes open, had become his primary battles.
There were frightening things out there in the dark.
Some senses dulled, others became heightened. Dean's jacket smelled of smoke, and sweat, and gunpowder. Sam could hear the sound of Bobby's footfalls as he pursued Jake in the distance, and the rumble of thunder in the clouds above. The pat-pat of raindrops falling on his shoulders echoed through his head.
He could also hear the panic in his brother's voice, its presence incongruous to his words.
"It's not even that bad, it's not even that bad, all right. We're gonna patch you up, okay? You'll be good as new, huh?"
Sam blinked. Dean wavered into focus. There was desperation there in his expression, terror in his eyes. He held Sam's face between cold, trembling hands.
"I'm going to take care of you. I'll take care of you. It's my job, right, to watch out for my pain-in-the-ass baby brother? Sam? Sammy!"
The shadows were getting closer. Sam lost another battle. His eyes closed and he drifted closer to edge as his heartbeat slowed to a crawl. His body no longer registered pain. Oxygen starved brain cells began to misfire, playing games with his head.
He was ten years old, lying abed in the tiny apartment John had rented that year. From time to time they did settle down in one place, at least for a few months a year, so that the boys could get their education in things John couldn't teach them. Sam enjoyed school. Dean didn't.
Sam was rarely late, but had been up nearly all night reading. What had it been? Steinbeck. That's right. The Grapes of Wrath. It was advanced material for a ten-year-old but Sam wasn't intimidated and had tackled it with a fervor. After nearly a week of slow, careful, reading he'd finally put the book down with a satisfied sigh at three that morning. He was having a hard time waking up.
I'm tired, Dean. Leave me alone.
Dean was shaking him, trying to get him up so they could get to school on time. Dean was already in hot water for being tardy too much. If Sam didn't get up, he'd make them both late.
His brother gave him another hard shake and woke him to the present.
"Oh no. No, no, no, no...Sam! Sammy!!"
I can't get up. I can't get upohgodIcan'tgetupcan'tbreatheIcan't...breathe...
The outside world was falling away, or maybe it was he who fell, like Alice down the rabbit hole, drifting down into a dark abyss. As he fell memories floated by all around him like pages torn from a picture book. His mind flipped back and forth between past and present.
There were bad memories, filled with pain...
"It's college, Dad! A full scholarship to one of the most prestigious schools in the country!"
"I said, no. We need you here, Sam."
"You selfish son-of-a-bitch!"
"Don't you dare..."
"Don't you dare! I've had it with this life, Dad. I'm done. I don't give a fuck what you do anymore. I don't care about your obsessive crusade. I'm leaving and you can't stop me!"
"Go ahead then. You go ahead and walk out that door! I'm warning you, Sam, if you leave, you're not coming back. Once you're gone, you better stay gone."
"Fine. If that's what you want, I will."
I slammed the door in his face. He didn't try to stop me. Dean did. Chased me all the way to the bus station. Gave me every last dime he had when he saw I was serious.
And good ones filled with love and laughter...
"Is this seat taken?"
"Uh...oh. No. No it's not, please, sit down."
"You're welcome...uh...I'm Sam, Sam Winchester."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Jessica."
He saw her smile. He could remember her touch, her scent, the way she made him feel when they made love.
"What would I do with out you?"
"Oh, crash and burn."
Jess. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. It tried to warn me in my dreams, and I didn't listen. That bastard demon tried to save you, but I didn't lift a finger...I didn't tell you the truth. I didn't leave when I should have...
Dean's voice grew more distant and garbled as if he were speaking from under water. It mutated, became higher pitched, tinged with madness as reality flickered back to a more recent past.
"You wouldn't believe what we can do!"
"The learning curve is so fast..."
"It's like all these switches were flipped on inside my head..."
Sam rose to full consciousness for one last, brief, moment. He felt his brother's arms around him, felt Dean's body shudder with a sob as he pressed Sam's head to his cheek and held him tight as if that alone would save him.
The cracks began that night in 1983. Like a tiny nick in a windshield they'd gradually grown into a complex spiderweb of fault lines. Since their father's death they'd miraculously withstood blow, after blow, after blow. They couldn't take anymore. This was it.
"Oh, God. Sam!"
No, please! I can't leave him like this. I can't!
He began to sink again, dark waves surging up to pull him down and drown him in their shadowy depths. Within the darkness he thought he saw the gleam of yellow eyes, and the flicker of flame.
The demon. I have to warn them...
The full impact of what was happening suddenly hit him. He couldn't warn anyone about the demon's plans. It was too late. He was dying.
Dean! Don't let go, please don't let me go! Not yet. Not yet!
What do I do?
Ava's voice replied.
"You won't believe what you can do."
Sam pulled back, dove deep inside himself, fleeing from the shadows pursuing him, fighting the dull lethargy overtaking his mind. Just seconds before darkness swallowed him whole he found what he was looking for. Just seconds before he died Sam reached out...
And flipped a switch.
Dean's eyes were still bloodshot, rubbed raw and red. His cheeks were still damp and burning from tears. His hands were still unsteady. He took a swig from the bottle of whiskey he held and passed it across the table.
He belched. "Your turn."
Sam took a long pull. The whiskey burned his throat as it went down, but in a good way. Warmth spread through a body still recovering from the bitterest cold of them all. He handed the bottle back to his brother.
"Have you been keeping score?" he asked softly.
"Visions, spoon bending..." Dean drank, wiped his mouth on his sleeve, and passed the bottle once more. "Took a big jump up in the standings there with the resurrection thing, Sammy."
"I didn't jump. I was pushed." Sam took a double turn before Dean got the bottle again.
This is good whiskey. He must have stolen it from Bobby.
Dean saluted, raising the whiskey bottle high in the air as he himself rose from his chair. "Next stop, the apocalypse."
Sam stood up. From the cache of items lying on the table he picked up a rifle and a rosary. Dean armed himself with a pistol, a bottle of holy water, and their father's journal.
The two of them looked at each other without speaking for a long time.
"Our odds suck," Sam said finally.
"Since when as that ever stopped us?" Dean's grin slowly faded. His eyes glittered, but no tears fell. He was spent in that department, completely and utterly wrung out. "I couldn't do it without you." he said quietly.
Sam knew the truth. He'd come back just in time. He'd seen the gun lying in his brother's lap, the utterly ruined expression on Dean's face...
Wouldn't. He wouldn't have done anything at all without me.
There was irony in the fact neither one of them might make it through what came next.
"Of course not, every hero needs a geeky sidekick." Sam polished off the whiskey while Dean armed himself. "You drunk?"
Sam nodded. He cocked rifle and opened the door. "Ready?"
"Ready." Dean squared his shoulders, cracked his neck. His wry grin returned along with the attitude. "Come on, Sundance, let's go save the world."
They paused together on the threshold, both of them fully understanding why that particular analogy had been chosen.
If they really were about to make their last stand...
"No survivors, Sammy," Dean said softly. "You got me?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah," he whispered back. "I got you."
Nobody gets left behind.