Summary: He's staring into the darkness, eyes blank and shimmering in the glow of the headlights.
Spoilers: Massive spoilers for 2.21 All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 & 2.22 All Hell Breaks Loose Part 2
Pairings: None (no Wincest to be found here, folks—just brotherly love)
Warnings: Character death, run-on sentences, doubtful coherence
Category: Angst, future fic, deathfic
Word Count: 1,105
Disclaimer: "Supernatural", along with all its characters and concepts, belongs to Eric Kripke and other people and companies, none of whom are me. I'm just borrowing them. Please don't sue.
Author's Note: Yes, it's been done before, but my muse insisted, so this is my demented late-night take on it. Set one year after AHBL2.
It's dark when she reaches the crossroad, and she's exhausted, so tired that her eyes are burning mercilessly. She's driving pretty much on autopilot because she's traveled this stretch of road a million times and it's rare to meet another car out here, so when she sees the guy sitting in the middle of the road, it takes a few seconds to register.
Then she's hitting the brakes sharply, screeching to a halt a few feet from him, and he doesn't even look up. Instincts from ten years as an EMT take over, and her exhaustion is pushed aside as everything snaps into sharp focus. The guy is on his knees in the middle of the road, face pale and blank in the harsh glow from her headlights, and he's clutching something—no, someone, another guy, it looks like—in his arms. The guy being held is bonelessly limp in a way that's all too familiar to her.
She touches the pistol under the seat, just for reassurance, then climbs laboriously out of the car and calls to the guy she almost ran over. "Hey! Are you okay?" She walks slowly toward him, hoping to get some response, her eyes sweeping the scene. There are two vehicles parked off to the left—a shiny black classic car and a newer green car. Both look unharmed so she's guessing it wasn't a car accident.
The guy slowly raises his head, so that she can fully see the tears shining on his cheeks. He's young—early, maybe mid twenties—and the anguish in his distant eyes cuts straight through all the barriers she's put up over the years. She moves to his side, kneels as best her pregnant belly will allow, and resists the urge to put a hand on his shoulder. She's not sure how he'll react if he's touched right now.
"Hey," she says in a soft, even voice. "Are you all right? Can you tell me what happened?"
For a moment she's not sure he even hears her, even registers that she's there. He isn't sobbing aloud, but the tears keep coming, and he's rocking his burden slightly like a mother would rock a child. The motionless man, from what she can see, doesn't look much older than the one holding him. His skin is dead white and his arms trail limply, swaying slightly along with the rocking motion.
The boy is staring past her into the darkness, eyes blank and shimmering in the glow of the headlights. "My big brother," he says finally, in a flat, empty voice. "He's dead."
And oh, God, she was afraid of that. Her throat aches as she looks at the lanky, shaggy-haired kid, at the way he's holding his older brother—cradled tightly to his chest, chin resting on the older boy's short light brown hair. She shifts position so that she can see the older boy's face better. He's achingly pretty, must have been gorgeous alive, and the light smattering of freckles across his nose and cheekbones makes him look like a sleeping child. She reaches out tentatively and touches his face. His skin is already cooling.
"I'm sorry," she says, and it's hopelessly inadequate as always, because there are no words for this, no words to fill the black hole in the world where a person was. "I'm so sorry. Can you tell me what happened?" The younger looks like he's going into shock, and she wants to keep him talking almost as much as she wants to understand what caused this.
"He left," the boy says, his voice breaking on a small sob, and for an instant she thinks she hears betrayal mixing with raw grief. "A note, and...I couldn't...find him in time, and..." He presses his chin harder into the top of his brother's head, squeezes his eyes shut and draws a ragged breath. "And..."
She steals another glance at the older boy—at his wide, staring, dead hazel eyes—and sees there a hint of lingering anguish that death could not erase. She thinks she's starting to understand, and she wishes now that she hadn't asked, because people who are young and beautiful and have little brothers who love them aren't supposed to commit suicide. The problem is that they do, and it's the only explanation that makes sense to her.
She can't see a mark on the older boy, and there's no blood. Overdose? It doesn't really matter; whatever it was, it worked.
"Should I...call someone?" She asks, because this boy definitely doesn't need to be alone. She's pretty sure he isn't planning on following his brother, but people do crazy things when they're distraught.
"NO!" He says sharply, holding his brother tighter, and she recoils a little, realizing just how big he is and how dangerous he could be. For the first time he really looks at her, his sad eyes sweeping down to her pregnant belly, and his attitude softens a little. "No," he says, voice back to flat and empty. "No, I already...called a friend. Be here soon."
"Okay." She nods, and wonders if she should ask him if it's okay if she stays until then. She decides not to, because she's staying whether he wants her to or not. He doesn't need to be alone. Right now he might not be coherent enough to understand that, but she does.
She's still just a little scared of him, but he looks so much like a lost child and she's all pregnancy hormones and she can't stop herself. She reaches out timidly to touch his shoulder, and to her surprise he doesn't fling her off, even leans into the touch a little. He's shaking, and she can feel how cold he is even through layers of shirts. She tries to swallow the lump in her throat and wonders if she should talk more.
To her surprise, it's him who starts talking, words tumbling out fast and almost incoherent. "It's my fault," he says, eyes tracking down to his brother's dead face. "I should've saved him. I should've found a way to save him." His voice drops almost to a whisper. "I said I'd save him."
"Sometimes you can't," she says softly. She was an EMT. She knows.
"I should have," he repeats just as another vehicle makes itself known with a low, rusty growl.
She takes her hand from his shoulder and stands, her knees reminding her that she is A) pregnant and B) not all that young any more. The man who steps out of the rusty pickup is on the far end of middle-aged, wearing a baseball cap and a hollow expression, and he stops abruptly when he gets a good look at the boys in the middle of the road. He quickly blinks away the tears, but not before she sees them.
"You the friend he called?" She asks, and the new arrival tears his eyes away from the boys to look at her. He nods.
She lowers her voice. "Is he going to be all right?" They both know which boy she's talking about, because it's pretty clear the older one left 'all right' behind some time ago.
The friend lets out a long, ragged sigh. "We'll take care of him," he says finally, rough-voiced, and she knows that's all he can promise. She can't do anything more here—never could do anything, really, but that didn't stop her from needing to try.
She goes back to her car, trying not to look at them again, but the sight is already branded indelibly into her mind. She watches as the friend comes over, kneels beside the younger brother, talking to him in a low, soothing voice. The older man manages to get the boy to his feet, and for the first time she sees how tall the kid really is, how easily he lifts his older brother.
They move out of the road so that she can drive past, and when they disappear into the dark behind her, she realizes her eyes are burning again—not from exhaustion, this time.
When she gets home, she can tell her husband has been worrying because she's late. He has that line between his eyebrows, and it only deepens when he sees her face. "Hon?" He says, taking a step toward her. "Is everything okay? What happened?"
She's crying too hard to tell him.