Author's Notes: I got the idea for this before the season 2 finale, so this is definitely AU as of "All Hell Breaks Loose". Spoilers really for anything before that. Also, I should note that this is a bit longer than I usually like to make a chapter, but I just couldn't make myself separate it, so, oh well. Multiple POV in this fic.
Summary: Desperate times call for desperate measures. Dean makes a decision with a little help from Jim Morrison.
Disclaimer: Supernatural is not mine, and neither are Dean and Sam. Mental Sammy and Dean-In-His-Head, though, are totally mine. Read and you shall discover.
"In a Desperate Land"
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It'd been stuck in his head for days now, ever since he caught the tail-end of Apocalypse Now on television. The funny thing was, he wasn't even a huge fan of the flick—for him, Martin Sheen's character was way too much of a whiny bastard, too busy monologuing about to kill or not to kill, instead of just getting the damn job done already. It was what his dad had once called the "Hamlet Syndrome"—to which Dean had said, "Dude, you read Hamlet?"
John had, so Dean did too, and for the most part was bored out of his friggin mind—Hamlet was a loser, his mother was a bitch, and his chick was just downright stupid—she should have killed Hamlet, and saved everyone some trouble. You can go cuckoo for cocoa-puffs after you avenge your dad. But Ophelia was a moron, so she offed herself instead, and Dean quickly came to the decision that this was the dumbest play ever.
Still, his dad had been right—Hamlet was a sniveling, waffling bastard, and his indecision cost pretty much everybody their lives.
Dean understood that when you planned to kill somebody, you couldn't leave room for indecision. You took a minute, you made your choice, and then you followed through.
Dad had laid that choice on Dean, and Dean was left with a decision to make: save Sammy or kill Sammy; those were the only two options, in the end. And he knew he couldn't kill Sam, no matter what; it couldn't be done, so he had to save his brother. Dean had to save him by any means necessary.
Dean figured out how to save Sam four days after watching Apocalypse Now. He'd been doing the research for once . . . Sammy was taking his freaking hour long shower . . . and Dean had come across some spells by accident, all the while listening to the Doors playing incessantly in his head.
Can you picture what will be?
So limitless and free
Desperately in need of some stranger's hand
In a desperate land
"Holy crap," Dean had said, looking at the spell and what it called for. Nothing he couldn't get without raising too much suspicion . . . Sam was barely aware of his brother these days anyway. Dean could get the ingredients, perform the spell . . . but it wouldn't be enough. The Demon would still be after them, and Sam would still be in danger.
Unless. Unless he made a deal.
Sam had come out of the bathroom ten minutes later and saw Dean staring blankly into the corner. "Dude," he said. "You okay? What's going on?"
Dean had looked at his brother then, took a minute to just look at him. Freakishly tall and innocent looking, Sam was giving him the emo eyes of empathy while using one of the motel's crappy pink towels to dry off his girly ass hair. It would have been funny, should've been funny, but Dean was looking into a double-image, seeing his 23 year old brother standing before him and his father with a baby in his arms.
Take your brother outside and run as fast as you can, Dad had said all those years ago, but that plan wouldn't work anymore; Dean had been running all his life, and what did he have to show for it? A bitchin' car, a dead dad, and a brother that was becoming something else. Even with the Impala, he couldn't count that as a win.
Dean had been running all his life, and your Demons always catch up with you eventually. He couldn't save Sammy that way. And if you can't save Sammy, you'll have to kill him.
So you save Sammy, a voice had said quietly in his head. It was Sam's voice, always Sam's voice back there, in the corner of his mind explaining what he had to do. You gotta kill me or save me, and you can't kill me soooooo . . . come on, man, I know you didn't go to college or anything, but even YOU should be able to figure this one out
Asshole, Dean said back to Mental Sammy, but M. Sam was right—Dean knew what he had to do.
You save him. You save him by any means necessary.
"Dean? Helllllo?" Sam waved a hand in front of his face. "Earth to Dean?"
Dean had blinked, looked at Sam, and made his decision. "Yeah," he said quickly. "I'm fine."
"You sure? What's going on?"
"Nothing," Dean had lied. "Nothing."
And then he had smirked.
"Nice towel," he said.
The thing was, this was a fucktastic plan—not just lousy or kinda crappy but dear-fucking-Christ-this-SUCKS kind of plan—but it was really the only solution Dean had, so he was going with it, fucktastic or not. Maybe a few months ago, Dean wouldn't have jumped on so readily—he was always kind of a fucked up guy, but he never would have called himself suicidal—but things had changed in the last few months. Sam had changed.
And he was still changing.
It had started sometime after Madison, Dean was sure. Sometime after his baby brother put a silver bullet in her heart. His nightmares got more intense, more vivid, more focused, until it seemed that Sam couldn't go to sleep without being sucked into some weirdo vision. Sam had said that the visions were changing, like he could move around and look at things more clearly, but Dean could give a rat's ass about what a vision felt like. Dean only cared about the side effects.
Because there were definite side effects—number one being that the pain had gotten worse. Dean didn't know how that was even possible, thought that his brother always looked like warmed up road kill after the first visions, but these new ones apparently brought pain to new levels, because Sam could be incapacitated for days after having one. He slept constantly, like he had the first few weeks after Jessica, but he never looked rested. He never looked content.
Dean stood up from his chair and walked across the motel room—they were in North Carolina now, after finishing up another poltergeist hunt. Sam was asleep, of course, and Dean knelt by his side. Once upon a time, that would have woken Sam, but now things were different.
The visions didn't worry Dean as much as they should have, because he was too busy being worried about a few other, psychotic things. The telekinesis, for instance, that whole I-moved-the-cabinet-with-my-head thing? Apparently, not a one time deal. About seven weeks ago, they were holed up in Wisconsin or some place, fighting over whether to watch the second Terminator or some freakish Animal Planet thing, and then out of nowhere Sam had the remote . . . only a second ago, Dean had been holding the remote, and he was all the way across the room.
Since then, it had gotten worse. Like seriously fucking worse.
Sam's control over the telekinesis was way better than his control over the visions—he could move just about anything if he concentrated hard enough. But sometimes his control broke, especially when he was pissed, and Dean had come perilously close to being impaled by a floating dagger more than once. And half the time Sam used his whole feel-the-force thing, his nose would start bleeding, not like a kid's nose but like practically gushing blood.
Twice now, Dean had been forced to take Sam to the hospital, despite the Feds and the risk, because he could not get that blood to stop
And he couldn't get through to Sammy, couldn't make Sammy see how bad it was getting. Dean, if I hadn't lifted that gun, you'd be dead right now, okay? And Dean appreciated that, appreciated not having a bullet shatter his fucking skull, but none of that was really the issue. The visions and the telekinesis—they weren't the real problem.
Sam was the real problem. Sam was . . . changing.
It was in little ways, mostly. Ways that only a brother could tell, things that might not seem like such a big deal to anybody else. But Dean could see it, could see how Sam's already quick temper was flaring up at the smallest things. Dean couldn't tell anymore what was gonna set Sam off, just that something would because something always did.
And the hunting had changed, too. They killed everything that moved, and Sam didn't care. Sam never hesitated.
Dean loved his brother, but Sam always hesitated. He always had to brood about things, waffle and whine and make sure he was righteous in his actions. When Dean had once mentioned that he had read Hamlet forever ago, Sam had brightened up immediately. "That's my favorite play," he had said.
Dean had rolled his eyes, but he sure as hell hadn't been surprised.
Now, though, now Sam wasn't brooding. He wasn't waffling or whining; he was just killing, without remorse. Sometimes, Dean thought he even enjoyed the hunting.
You don't think anything, Mental Sammy said flatly. You KNOW that he enjoys it, and not just the hunting. Sammy enjoys the killing, the blood on his hands. Sam LOVES knowing that he has the power to end a life, any life.
The truth was, Sam was acting more like Dean, and that seriously scared the fuck out of Dean. Sam liked Hamlet; Sam would probably feel sorry for the guy in Apocalypse Now. Dean was the guy with the questionable morals. Dean was the guy who enjoyed killing every evil sonofabitch that he could find.
This wasn't Sam anymore. At least, it wouldn't be for long.
Dean started to stand up and go back to the computer when Sam shifted under the covers, muttering restlessly in his sleep. Dean couldn't make out the words, just the fear beneath them, and he started to reach out with one hand when he stopped mid-motion. The phone on the bedside table had just started to shake.
Then, everything in the room started to shake.
Dean moved his arm again and rested his hand on Sam's shoulder. "Sam," Dean said, "Wake up. It's just a nightmare."
How would YOU know if it's just a nightmare? Mental Sammy said. For all you know, Sam's having a vision of killing you.
You're really an ASS sometimes, you know that? Dean thought bitterly. Sometimes, he wondered if the real Sam had an annoying voice going off in his ear too, some kind of Mental Dean to point out when he was fucking up and what he had to do. He didn't ask, because he knew the answer. The Demon was right about you. You do need them a helluva lot more than they need you.
Fuck off, Dean told Mental Sammy. Then he returned his attention to real Sammy and the room that was still shaking. "Sam. Come on, man, wake up. I mean, don't get me wrong, this place is a real fixer-upper, but shaking it apart ain't gonna help matters none."
Sammy only shifted in his sleep, so Dean shook him harder. "Sammy," he said. "Sammy, wake up."
Sam's eyes snapped open and his fingers dug painfully into Dean's wrist. He glared up at Dean, but Dean couldn't tell if he was fully aware or not.
"Sam," Dean said and cringed a little at the waver he heard in his voice. "Sam, man. It's okay. It's me. It's Dean."
"I know that," Sam snapped. "I'm not blind, Dean."
"Yeah, well, I'm not invincible, man," Dean said back. Sam continued to glare at his brother, but Dean could read the confusion in his eyes. "You're gouging holes in my wrist big enough to breathe through," he added softly.
Sam blinked and looked down. His fingernails had torn through Dean's skin, leaving a small of pool of blood and trickles of red trailing down Dean's arm. For a second, Dean actually could feel the pressure increase as Sam gripped harder and further through his skin.
He's changing, Mental Sammy said. You have to fix this before it's too late.
Then the pressure around his wrist disappeared as Sam withdrew his hand. "Jesus, Dean," he said softly. "I'm sorry."
Dean shrugged, knowing that his eyes betrayed the gesture. "That's okay, Sammy," he said as he glanced down at his wrist. The blood flow had already stopped but bruises were beginning to form. Truth be told, he'd always been an easy bruiser, and he knew by tomorrow his wrist would be entirely purple and blue.
"It's not okay," Sam said, and Dean glanced up. Sam was awfully pale, and there was a lot of white showing around the eyes. "I'm sorry, man, really. I didn't mean—I mean, I wouldn't ever—"
"Chill, Sam," Dean said. "It's okay. I know." He took a step back before he realized he was doing it. Fortunately, Sam didn't seem to notice. "You were sort of shaking the furniture with that nightmare there, Sammy," he said. "You dream anything, you know, interesting?"
Sam looked down at the bed. "No," he said. "Wasn't a vision."
Dean nodded. "Okay," he said. "So what was it?"
"Really, Dean. It was nothing."
"Uh-huh." Dean shook his head. "That's crap, Sam. You know it is. You just blew a 10.0 on the Richter Scale, Sammy! Obviously, you were dreaming something pretty nasty." Sam just turned away from him, so Dean edged closer. "Sam, man—"
"Goddammit, Dean!" Sam snapped. "It's none of your fucking business! It was just. A Fucking. Dream. All right?"
And there Sam was, glaring at him again, only this wasn't a pissy-little brother glare; this was rage, this was hate, and it wasn't so much concealed as echoing in Sam's eyes. It had Dean backing up again, hands up and a mocking, sad smile on his face.
"I got it, man," Dean said. "I got it. None of my fucking business. I got the memo, all right? I'll leave you the fuck alone."
Dean turned away, and Sam caught him by the wrist. The bruised, punctured wrist. "Fuck, Sammy!" Dean hissed.
"I'm sorry," Sam said quickly. "I'm sorry. I didn't want, I mean, I didn't mean to—not that wrist, I . . . I didn't mean to hurt you. I've just . . ." Sam trailed off, looking both miserable and frightened. "I'm just so tired, Dean. I never meant . . ."
"It's okay," Dean said again. "It's all right."
"Sam, really. It's okay. It's fine."
It wasn't. God, it wasn't, but it would be.
It would be.
"I was just going to get something to eat," Dean said. "You hungry?"
"Good, I'll get you a cheeseburger. Be back in twenty."
"Dean . . ."
Dean turned around. "Yeah?" he said.
Sam stared at him for a second, looking small, somehow, looking helpless. And there was that double image again; Dean could see a little boy hiding under the huge covers, pretending to be a monster.
Rawr, Dean. Rawr, I got you.
Yeah, kid, Dean thought. Yeah, you always got me.
Sam held his gaze for a minute, and then let it drop to the covers below. "I'm sorry," he said again, more to the bed than to Dean.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean said softly. "It's gonna be okay."
Once he saved Sammy, everything would be okay.
Sam didn't know what was happening to him.
Well, that's a bunch of crap, Dean's voice said in his head. You know EXACTLY what's happening to you. You just don't want to admit it.
Sam nodded to himself, conceding the point. Dean-In-His-Head was right. Sam knew what was happening.
He was changing. He didn't know how to stop it.
And somehow, even more terrifying, Dean was changing too.
He wasn't sure when he first noticed it. Maybe about a week ago, maybe more. At first, Sam assumed that Dean was just scared, about what was happening to his brother, about what he might have to do. But Sam had seen Dean scared and this wasn't exactly it. Dean should have been angry, closed off.
He shouldn't have been . . .resolved.
Because that's what this was; Dean looked like he was ready. It was something Sam had seen before, once or twice, and that scared the crap out of him . . . because Dean only acted like this when he thought he was about to die. He didn't look scared. He looked prepared. Like he was waiting.
Dean didn't do waiting. But that's definitely what he was doing now.
This is the end
My only friend, the end
And that was unsettling, too, that damn song playing in his head all the time. Sam knew that it was only stuck in his head because it was stuck in Dean's head—something that Sam had decided not to tell Dean about, this new little telepathy thing he had going. It had only started about a month ago or so, and it was extraordinarily inconsistent, coming and going whenever it pleased. Mostly, he picked up random thoughts from Dean, or sometimes from a random person who was in particularly bad mood. But Sam couldn't control it, couldn't use it to figure out Dean's plan; all he could do was hear remnants of this damn song.
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes . . . again
Creepy. It was fucking creepy
But Sam had no way of asking Dean about it, no way of saying, "Hey, bro? Why do you got the world's most depressing song playing constantly in your head?" Not without giving up his latest secret, anyway, and Sam didn't want to give that up. Didn't want to think about it.
Couldn't think about it.
You're changing, Dean-In-His-Head said. And there's not a damn thing in the world that you can do about it.
Sam nodded again, conceding the point. He knew that there was nothing he could do.
He wondered if Dean did.
Sam was feeling lousy, and for once it had nothing to do with his powers or with changing—he was simply getting sick, in bed with 103 degree fever. Dean stayed in with him, absently tending to him and just as absently cleaning his guns and organizing the weapons. The disattachment was seriously freaking Sam out, but he didn't have to energy to shake answers out of his brother.
Still, when Dean set another glass of water down by Sam's side (the first two were still half-full from ten and twenty minutes ago) Sam sat up and said, "What's wrong, Dean?"
Dean looked at him. "I'm fine," he said. He sounded distracted, like he was trying to have two conversations at once. He put a cool hand down to Sam's forehead. "You feeling worse?" he asked. "You seem a little hotter."
"Never thought you'd admit it," Sam said. Dean gave him a vague smile, like, ha-ha, very funny kid, but Daddy's got his mind on other things, and Sam took hold of his wrist, the one he had practically torn apart two weeks ago. It still looked a little off-color.
"Dean," Sam said. "What's going on with you? It's like you're not even here, man."
"I'm fine," Dean said insistently. "I've just . . . I've just got things on my mind. It's not a big deal, Sammy." He flashed a smirk. "Even the handsome brother gets to brood sometimes."
Sam wasn't fooled. "Is that what this? Brooding?" Because it certainly didn't feel like brooding, but how did Sam ask, "What are you waiting for, Dean?" without getting some kind of cheap, half-assed answer.
Instead, he asked, "Is it cause of me? Is it because I've, I'm—"
"You're nothing," Dean said sharply. "You're not changing into anything, Sammy. Jeez, you should learn a new song already."
That was rich, coming from Dean, but Sam didn't pursue the lie, even though it was so obvious that Sam could actually spot it as a lie. As a rule, the Winchester brothers were old pros at the game of lies, but Dean's heart wasn't in it. He knew the truth, even if he wouldn't admit it.
Not to me, anyway, Sam thought. Maybe, finally, he's admitted it to himself.
"All right," Sam said, knowing that it wasn't all right but that there wasn't much he could do about it right then. "Is it Dad, then? Is that what this is about?" They were coming up on the anniversary in a few weeks, and Dean had always been good with anniversaries when it came to the people who had died.
Dean didn't answer, just walked back over to his side of the room to start cleaning his guns again. He had already cleaned them three times, but Sam wasn't sure if Dean actually knew that. It was like he was stuck in repetitive motion, going through the same actions over and over again, looping endlessly, just like the song in their heads.
Only not endlessly. There was an end to this, but Sam didn't know if he'd want to see it.
Dean still hadn't answered, so Sam called out his name. Dean did nothing, just worked on his already perfectly clean guns. Sam sighed. "Look, Dean, I know—I know how angry you are at Dad, but, man, this isn't healthy. You gotta—"
"I'm not," Dean interrupted, and Sam blinked, backtracking what he had just said. Dean rolled his eyes, but clarified, "I'm not angry at Dad anymore, not really. I mean, if I could go back and change what he did—but I can't, no matter how much I want to. And I get it, you know? I get why he did it. I'm still—I wish he hadn't, but—I forgive him, you know?"
And Sam shouldn't have known. Sam should have been incredulous; Sam should have got to his feet and yelled, "What!" at the top of his lungs. Not because Dean was wrong or because he didn't deserve their father's sacrifice, but because it was not Dean to accept such a thing. It hurt Sam to think it, but he knew his brother. Dean could forgive his father for everything . . . everything but that.
So the alarm bells should have been ringing; red lights should have been flashing, "Warning, warning: There is something wrong with your brother." But Sam was sick and tired and sick of being tired, and maybe just a little too relieved at the idea that Dean had come to some measure of peace. Sam had prayed for such a moment for almost a year now; maybe he believed the lie just because he wanted to.
"I'm glad, man," Sam said, and Dean looked up, giving that vague smile that said he wasn't really listening.
"Yeah, Sam. Me too. Now shut up for two seconds, and put that thermometer back in your mouth, see how much longer I'm gonna be stuck with your bed-ridden ass."
Sam rolled his eyes but complied, feeling very tired all of a sudden. He'd been tired a lot lately, since long before he had gotten sick. All he wanted to do was sleep . . .but Dean wouldn't let him shut down that way, and besides, dreams were no longer the refuge they had once been years ago. Blessed unconsciousness did not come without a price any longer.
The thermometer beeped and Sam looked at it. "Crap," he muttered, before Dean stomped over and snatched it away.
"103.7," Dean said, frowning. "Not so good, Sammy. Gets much higher and we might have to chance a hospital."
"No," Sam said, trying not to sound like a sulky seven year old who didn't want to go to bed. "No hospital. We can't risk it."
Dean shrugged. "Don't like the idea much myself, Sammy, but, you know. We do what we gotta do."
He sounded so solemn right then that Sam tried to sit up again to study him. He only got a head-rush for his trouble, though, and he scooted himself down in bed, trying to get his vision to not be so damn blurry. He needed to see his brother. He needed to see what was wrong.
Maybe there's nothing wrong, Sam thought to himself. Maybe you're just projecting all your worries onto him. He shifted a little under his covers, not noticing when his eyes closed. Is that the right term? Projecting? Jess would've known. Jess . . .
Sam felt himself start to drift off and jerked himself awake. Don't lie to yourself, kiddo, Dean-In-His-Head said. This ain't the time for foolin' around. Sam tried to focus on his brother across the room, but it was hard to even keep his eyes open. "Dean," he said, hoping his voice didn't sound too frail or too young. "Dean, we're okay, right? Everything's . .. everything's okay?"
Dean's head lifted, but Sam's vision was too blurry to see the expression on his face. "Go to sleep, Sam," Dean's voice said softly.
No. You can't. You have to figure this out, before . . . before . . . whatever Dean's waiting for. But Sam wasn't sure he had much choice in the matter; he was just so godamned tired right now.
He felt his eyes close again as he rolled onto one side. "You'll be here," he said thickly. "When I wake up . . . righ'?"
Sam thought he heard Dean swallow, and he tried to stay awake to hear an answer, but the only one he got was from that song—
There's danger on the edge of town
And then he was asleep.
Dean set down the gun that he had been cleaning and moved over to his bed, where he could watch Sammy sleep.
God, this SUCKS, he thought, and man, it really, really did, because Dean was ready to do what he needed to do . . . except that it wasn't time yet. All he could do was wait. Wait, and it seemed to take forever, and every minute he spent with Sammy trying to pretend like everything was normal was another minute he wanted to spend explaining what he was gonna do. Explain what he had to do and why he had to do it and beg for his brother's forgiveness, even though he knew it wouldn't be forthcoming. Dean didn't want Sam to hate him, not the way that he sometimes, helplessly, hated his own father. Dean wanted a chance to explain.
He wanted a chance to say goodbye.
But if he did, Sam would know, and he'd do everything he could to stop him.
You can't let that happen, Dean told himself. You've made your choice, remember? This is the time to follow through, and if following through means waiting, then that's what you do. You wait, and you stop letting him see your . . . whatever. Fear or regret or whatever this is. You stop letting him see it. Act NORMAL, godammit. It's the only way to save him.
He just had to wait, just a little bit longer.
He just had to wait for the New Moon.
Sam's fever started to go down a few days later, and it had completely dissipated by the end of the week. Dean started driving them west, though as far as Sam could tell, there was no particular destination in mind; they had no job lined up, and apparently no interest in getting one. Sam started doing research, but Dean refused to care about any of the possibilities that he found, even the potential banshee in New Mexico, and Dean had always wanted to hunt down a banshee.
When Sam pushed, Dean finally said, "Man, I could just use a break. We never take breaks, man; no vacations, no downtime, nothing. I'm not asking for Disney World here. Just . . . just gimme a week. Please, man. A week and I'll be fine."
He's waiting, Dean-In-His-Head tried to remind him, but Sam pushed the thought away. It had been a long year after all. It'd been a long couple of years, really, and Dean had lost so much. If he wanted a break, if he was actually admitting that he needed something, for once, Sam was damn well going to give it to him.
Everything's fine, he told himself insistently. Everything's FINE.
Dean-In-His-Head didn't even bother to call him a liar this time.
By Thursday, they were holed up in some crappy motel room, same damn town their Dad had died in. Sam had assumed Dean would blow right past it, just keep driving until the entire state was a distant memory, but Dean had stopped and Sam didn't have it in him to ask. Their motel room was freakishly hot, with stagnant air thick enough to cut through, so they spent the evening outside, leaning against the Impala and drinking beer under the bright, new moon.
Maybe it was the town, or the memory of their dad, or just the beer on an empty stomach, but Dean was apparently feeling nostalgic, because he started talking about old times. Sam was surprised but certainly not resistant; they talked about old hunts and crap motel rooms and weird things from their childhood, including that Christmas Dad had surprised them with real presents. They usually got weapons or defensive gear or protection charms, but that year they got actual, store-bought toys. Cheap toys, but definitely toys nonetheless.
Sam still had absolutely no idea why.
Dean fetched them another round of beers and they were quiet for a little while, lost in various odd memories of childhood. Eventually, Sam's mind moved back to the present, and he watched Dean speculatively out of the corner of his eye. Since Sam had gotten better, Dean seemed different, more himself, but still . . . every now and then, Sam got a flash of something.
Something just not quite right.
"Dean," he said suddenly, "about this break—"
"It's okay," Dean said. "We can start researching tomorrow."
"We don't have to. If you need—"
"I don't," Dean said. "It's okay, Sam. Really."
It didn't feel okay, though. Sam turned to look at his brother. Dean wasn't looking at him, or anywhere near him. He was looking up silently at the moon above them. He looks so tired, Sam thought. "Dean," he said. "I know things haven't been right—"
"No, Dean, listen to me, okay? Just this once, just—listen. I know—I know something's happening to me—Dean, just shut up for a second, okay? I mean, I can feel it. I know I'm . . . changing. I don't know what I'm changing into exactly, but I know, okay, man? I know. And it's freaky, man, I mean, I'm scared as Hell sometimes, but—we'll get through it together, you know? I mean, I believe that. Things are kind of fucked up right now, but . . . I know we're going to get through this. So . . . if that's what this is, what you've been worried about or—seriously, man, shut up, I know you haven't been okay. You've been off for almost a month. You've been better at hiding it, but man, I'm your brother. I can tell. So . . . I just . . . I just wanted to say that if that's what this is, if this is what's been upsetting you, don't let it, cause we're gonna be okay. We are, Dean. I know it. I believe in that, Dean."
And Sam didn't know if he did, didn't know if he believed in their happy ending anymore, but he knew he needed Dean too. He needed Dean to believe that they'd be fine.
"You can talk now," Sam added after a minute of Dean just looking at him. But Dean didn't say anything at first, not for the longest time. He just looked at Sam, his face completely expressionless in a way Sam could never quite master.
When he spoke, his voice was calm, decided, but he had to clear his throat twice before being able to speak at all. It was the only clue Sam had that Dean was really listening, and even then, Sam couldn't really trust that Dean didn't just have a sore throat or something.
The only thing Dean said was, "I'm not scared, Sammy. I know that everything's gonna be okay."
And he said it so damn calmly that Sam began to feel a little stupid. "Okay," he said. "Well. You know. As long as you know."
Dean just smirked at him. "I know, geekboy, I know." His eyes drifted back to the moon, but only for a second. Then his attention was back on Sam. "Come on," he said. "It's got to be a little cooler in there by now. Besides, your much hotter psychic twin, Jennifer Love? Think she's coming on in about five minutes."
Sam rolled his eyes and followed him inside.
He didn't think anything about the moon.
He should have.
Dean didn't like drugging his brother, but on a few occasions he had been forced to. During those first few, terrible months after Jessica's death, Sam's insomnia got so bad that he was near useless on a hunt. Dean nearly got his head chopped off because Sam had been too sluggish, too slow. And Sam still insisted that he didn't need to sleep.
So, on occasion, Dean had put some sedatives in his brother's beer. He didn't like it, but sometimes that's what you had to do.
Tonight was one of those nights. Dean needed Sam to be out, completely out, with absolutely no chance of waking up at the worst possible moment. Dean felt a little lousy about it—but it was hardly the worst thing he'd ever done. Or, for that matter, was ever gonna do.
Sam's eyes started to close as he sank a little further into his bed. "Man," he said. "I'm beat. I—" A massive yawn emerged from his mouth and Sam sunk a little further, unconsciously curling into as small of a ball as his freakish giant body would allow. "I don't know what's wrong with me. Don't—don't remember being this tired."
Dean shrugged. "Well, it's been a long day. Go to sleep, man. Dream of some hot, naked, 10 feet tall chicks or something."
Even half out of it, Sam could still issue his, "God, Dean, you're such a jackass" glare. "But it hasn't been a long day," he sort of whined into his pillow. "We didn't do anything."
"Well, it's been a long year, then. Shut up, Sammy, and go to sleep already."
Sam flopped onto his stomach and at first seemed to comply. Dean sat there and listened to his brother's breathing even out. Then, just as Dean started to get off the bed, Sam opened one eye and fixed it on him.
"You goin' somewhere?" he asked thickly.
Dean's mouth felt dry. "Just to the can," he said. "Why? You need a bedtime story?"
Sam closed his eyes. "Fuck you," he muttered, and then shifted under his sheets and promptly fell asleep.
Which was what Dean wanted, but . . . dammit, he couldn't leave it like that, couldn't let Sam's last words to his brother be "fuck you," because, hell, Sam was still guilty about their father. He'd never get over it; Dean knew how Sam was. So he walked over to where Sam was sleeping and shook him a little.
"Hey, Sam. Sammy. Come on, man, wake up for a minute now."
Sam opened one eye again. "Whazzit?"
"Nothing," Dean said. "Nothing. Just—just wanted you to know that while you're snoozing away over here, I'm gonna be getting to know that hot looking girl at the front desk. So, you know, while you're dreaming about huge books or whatever it is you dream about, I'll be—"
Sam shook his head. "Leave me out of your nighttime activities, man."
Dean smirked. "Bitch."
Sam smiled. "Jerk," he said and nodded off again, one arm curled under his pillow.
Dean stood there for awhile, watching him sleep. This was better. This was how it should have been.
"Good night, Sammy," he whispered, and then, into his ear, "I'm sorry."
Sam shot his head up and looked around him, trying to figure out where the hell he was and where that voice had come from. It had sounded like Dean's voice, but also not—not the confident, cocky tone he had come to either love or loathe from his brother, but something more broken, something tired and full of regret.
"Dean?" he said, but he didn't see Dean—not that there was any reason he should. The last time he had seen Dean, they had been in the motel room. Sam had been so damn tired; he had laid down, fallen asleep . . .
"I'm dreaming," he said, but that wasn't exactly right. He was too conscious, too aware. I'm having a vision.
Sam looked around him; he was certainly no longer at the motel. It looked like he was in some cabin, somewhere; early morning sunlight was just beginning to filter through the windows. The window sills were covered in salt, protecting them from the monsters outside.
I know those salt lines, he thought, which sounded ridiculous, but it was true. Those lines had been there a long time. He knew it, because he had been the one to put them there.
It's not just any cabin, he thought. It's THE cabin.
And he was standing in the bedroom.
The bedroom door was shut, and as he looked at it, he could hear someone singing. It's that song again, that damn song Dean's always got in his head. He tried to will it away, but the song just seemed louder.
He paid a visit to his brother and then he, he walked on down the hall.
And he came to a door.
And he looked inside.
Sam didn't want to look inside, didn't want to open the door at all, because he knew he was going to find something bad, something he didn't want to think about it, didn't want to see. But the thing about visions was that they didn't come with an off-switch, and Sam was helpless to open the door and step through into the main room of the cabin.
In the middle of the cabin were the remnants of what looked like a summoning spell. What was summoned was standing on one side of the cabin, smiling and flashing those deep yellow eyes. On the other side of the cabin stood the person who had done the summoning.
"Dean?" Sam said hoarsely. "Dean, what the hell . . ."
Dean didn't acknowledge him, didn't so much as blink at his brother's sudden presence. "I'd make a better bad guy, anyway," he said to the Demon. "You know Sam's always doing that whiny moral thing—it is it good, is it evil, should I do it, should I not—me? I just like to kill things, and I'm damn sight better at it than my brother is."
"Dean," Sam whispered. "What are you talking about? Dean, what are you going to do?"
Dean glanced at a chair that was in his path, and the chair flew across the room. "Jesus!" Sam said, staring at Dean. "Dean, how did you—"
"You want me on your side," Dean said. "You really, really do. And you can have me, turn me evil, take my soul, whatever. I won't put up a fight. But you have to let Sammy go. You have to stop turning him into whatever you're turning him into, and never go after him. You let him go."
Sam was full on hyperventilating by now, because this couldn't be the future; Dean could not be doing this for him. Don't you know me at all, little brother, Dean-In-His-Head said softly. You should know by now I'd do anything to save you
Shut UP, Sam thought as he ran over to Dean, but Dean just moved right through him. "You let him go," Dean said, "and I'll—"
Dean stopped moving. For a second, Sam thought he was just pausing to take a long breath or something, a dramatic moment even though Dean didn't really do dramatic moments, but when he continued to say nothing, Sam moved to look at him. Dean was frozen in mid-motion, mouth still open, like he'd been put on pause.
Sam turned his head sharply to the Demon, trying to figure out how the hell he had paused his brother, but the Demon was still, too, frozen in time just like Dean. There was nothing moving in the cabin. Sam couldn't even hear the wind outside anymore.
"What the hell . . ."
"Sammy." The voice came from behind him, and Sam turned around sharply to see Dean standing there.
Sam blinked and looked backwards. Yep, Dean was still there, frozen in the middle of some kind of twisted deal for Sam's soul. Sam turned back to the New Dean, the one who was still moving. "Dean, what the hell . . ."
"Don't worry about it," Dean said. His voice sounded rough, hoarse. He walked up to Sam, and Sam noticed a small, circular stone in Dean's right hand. Obsidian, he thought absently. It looks like obsidian. Not that that really mattered so much right now.
"I said, don't worry about it. You just take care of yourself, okay?"
Dean didn't allow him to finish. He grabbed Sam by the arm and pushed the stone on the center of Sam's forehead, holding it there while Sam went to his knees. The pain was sudden, blinding, like fire burning through his skull.
He started to scream.
And then the world disappeared.
Dean's eyes snapped open. He was on hands and knees on the motel floor, and his head felt like it was on friggin' fire. He let the piece of obsidian slip through his fingers so he could cradle his head until the pain went away.
When he realized that that wouldn't be happening anytime soon, Dean clutched at his temples until the pain at least receded to a point where he could actually see again. Once that happened, he stood up uneasily, barely keeping the nausea at bay. Tonight already sucked enough, and tossing his cookies? So not going to help matters.
Dean massaged the sides of his head as he glanced over at Sam lying on the bed. Sam was still sound asleep, completely motionless; Dean had to check twice to make sure he was even breathing. That spell had not gone the way Dean thought it would; Dean had never expected Sam to be in a vision when he took the power. He certainly didn't expect Sam to be having that particular vision.
But maybe it was for the best. Sometimes you have to see something to believe it, and Dean knew Sam wouldn't believe what he was gonna do if he hadn't seen it with his own two eyes.
It'll be the last thing you see, little brother. You'll never have visions, not ever again
Better make sure, Mental Sammy said from the corner of his mind. Wouldn't want to get all the way to the cabin just to find out that something went wonky and you got no power backing you up.
No. That wouldn't work out spectacularly well, would it?
Dean glanced down at the floor where the obsidian stone still lay. He held out his hand in the air above it and frowned as he flexed his fingers. "Come on," he said to the stone. "Come on."
At first, there was nothing, just Dean standing in a motel room, staring down at a rock and looking like an idiot. "Come on," he said again, angry now. He didn't go through almost a month of planning for absolutely nothing to happen. "Come on, you stupid, fucking rock. I did the spell, now you're going to work. Get your ass up here now. Come on. Come ON!"
And the obsidian wavered for a beat or two . . .
. . . and then flew up into his hand.
Dean didn't let himself linger too long. He wanted to, God, he wanted to (but you've made your choice) and he couldn't afford to stay. He didn't know how long Sam would be out, and this had to be done by the time he woke up.
Still, he had to leave a note. It was sort of lame, really, a goodbye note for Chrissake, but it would have to do. It was all he had left to offer.
Dean wrote something down as quickly as he could, and then carefully placed the Impala keys next to it, smiling sadly down at them. It hurt to leave the Impala almost as much as it hurt to leave Sam, but he couldn't take her where he was going. She was better off this way.
Sam, you better take care of her, dammit, and he cried, just a little, before he left the room.
The cabin was only a few miles east of the motel. He had picked the place on purpose—didn't wanna have to bother with a cab all the way out here in the sticks. It shouldn't have taken that long to hike it, but he was feeling the after effects of the spell—definitely headachey and more than a little drained. It was almost dawn by the time he got there.
He set his pack down on the floor, humming "The End" as he got out everything that he needed. Few herbs, few words—it was almost ridiculously easy to summon a Demon these days. That was a good thing, though, because his pronunciation of Latin had always been this side of downright atrocious. There was a reason he let his geekboy brother do all the exorcisms, while he got to look awesome kicking down front doors.
Sammy obviously couldn't be here for this bit of ritual, but thankfully Dean knew enough Latin to get him by when he needed it. He said it quickly, no pauses, no ceremony, and when the Demon came, there was no theatrics, no flash.
"Well, Dean," the Demon said as he emerged from one corner. "Can't say I was expecting to hear from you so soon. What's the matter, boy? Got a little lonely all by yourself in the middle of the night?"
Dean smiled coldly. "I was jonesing for some company," he admitted. "Usually I like my company prettier and a little more human than you, but hey, you know, you gotta make do with what you got."
The Demon laughed. "Funny," he said. "You're a funny guy, Dean. Always had a better since of humor than your brother, that's for sure. You should have seen the fuss he was making after pretty little Jess." He shook his head sadly. "That boy wouldn't appreciate irony if it bit him in the ass."
The Demon glanced around theatrically, as if Sam might have been hiding behind some big curtain. "And where is your brother?" the Demon asked with a little grin. "I've noticed the dynamic duo seems a little lacking tonight."
"Sorry," Dean said. "He couldn't make it. I'm sure he's all broken up about missing you, though."
"Well, I'm disappointed too," the Demon said. "After all, he is the special one. Not like you. You're about as normal as normal can get."
Then the Demon outstretched his hand and Dean felt himself flying backwards into the wall behind him. "Of course," the Demon said as Dean's chest started to rip open. "I can settle for killing just you."
Dean swallowed, watching the blood pour down. Don't focus on the pain, don't focus on the pain. He didn't look at the Demon but the table that was two feet away from him. "That all you got," Dean said, and launched the table towards the Demon.
The table cracked the Demon over the head, and Dean felt the pressure lift off him immediately. He sank to his knees, one hand going to his chest. The wound hurt like hell, but didn't seem that deep.
When he could, he stood up, and looked the Demon in the eye. The Demon was staring at him, a little slack-jawed. He looked so shocked that Dean actually started to laugh.
After a minute, the Demon joined in.
"Dean," he said, almost fondly. "Somebody has been a very naughty boy. How exactly did you manage to do that?"
Dean sobered a little. "Doesn't matter," he said. "All that matters is this: Sam ain't the special one anymore. I'm the one you want. I can bend spoons or have visions or whatever it is you need me to do. Whatever you wanted Sam to do, you got me instead. Sam's worthless to you now; he's the one who's normal as normal can be. You want someone to reign hell on earth? I'm the man for the job."
The Demon smiled. "Are you now?"
"You know I am," Dean said. He stepped away from the wall and closer to the Demon.
"I'd make a better bad guy, anyway. You know Sam's always doing that whiny moral thing—it is it good, is it evil, should I do it, should I not—me? I just like to kill things, and I'm damn sight better at it than my brother is."
There was a chair in his path. Dean glanced at it, and it flew across the room. "You want me on your side," he said. "You really, really do. And you can have me, turn me evil, take my soul, whatever. I won't put up a fight. But you have to let Sammy go. You have to let him go and stop turning him darkside. You leave Sammy alone, and I'll do whatever you want. You leave Sammy alone . . ." Dean smiled, ". . . and I'm yours."
The Demon nodded, pursing his lips again. "It's an interesting proposition, Dean," he said thoughtfully. "But I don't know . . . I just don't know. Making deals with demons, swearing yourself to evil? I'm just not sure that Daddy would approve."
It took everything Dean had not to launch himself at the Demon, which hardly would have been productive at this stage of the game. The truth was, he didn't know how his father would have reacted. He'd like to think he'd be horrified, but . . . it had always been about Sammy. Everything, his whole life, had always been about taking care of Sammy. Dean was only doing what he'd been trained to do.
Besides, if anyone understood about making deals with devils . . . John Winchester, of all people, should understand that
"Dad's not here anymore," Dean said. "You should know; you saw to that. But even if he was, it wouldn't matter. I'm just doing what I have to do." He was now within arm's reach of the Demon, but he wasn't scared. He already knew how this was gonna play out. "So, we gonna talk all night, or are we going to make this deal already?"
The Demon laughed. He nodded to himself for a second, mulling it over, and then looked at Dean. "Okay," he said. "We got a deal."
Dean nodded. Then he stood there, waiting. Nothing happened, or at least, nothing he could see. "Soooo," he said. "Is that it, or is there some kind of ritual we do, or . . ."
He trailed off for a second, and then made a disgusted face. "Jeez, we don't have to kiss or anything, do we?"
The Demon laughed. "I think we can forego that part," he said. "That's more of a crossroads thing anyhow." He stepped up to Dean, one hand hovering just above Dean's forehead. "I hope you know this is gonna hurt like Hell."
Dean nodded. "I know it," he said. "I'm ready."
The Demon smiled and touched Dean's forehead, and when the darkness came, Dean didn't try to fight it.
When he felt his soul being ripped away, though . . . he couldn't keep himself from screaming.
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
A/N: Lyrics are all from "The End" by the Doors.
Review? Please? Pretty pretty pretty please? Cherries and all, I swear.