PART III: The Aftermath

Both Winchesters remained seated there at the footsteps to a decision neither was prepared to make. This moment had come upon them in such rapid succession of their greatest hunting achievement; both men had yet to fully grasp the gravity of such a loss.

So they remained, still and broken. The sides of their arms touching one another, bodies so still; eyes unfocused and watery from their many tears; looking from one side of the emptiness surrounding them indirectly over to the next.

"I...I don't know what to do now, Dad."

John heard Sam's words but inside him, the panic raged, a self sustaining fire burning furiously out of control. "I'll be right back Sammy. You stay here with your brother, got it?" he said, John's eyes locked on the sad young man with a dark passion so vicious and cold, a chill visibly surged throughout his youngest son's body.

"Where are you going? Dad...I can't...I ca...stay here...with...Dean..." The words were lost as Sam's mouth clamped shut, his head falling between his shoulders swiftly and crooked by the weight of his brother's death. John stopped, his back to the wind and the cabin that housed his dead son, and knew he couldn't leave.

Shouldn't leave.

Turning back, he walked over to where Sam had still been seated. Kneeling, he placed a hand on the young man's arm and squeezed tightly. "Sam, I need you to stay here with Dean. Ok? I don't want your brother to be alone. Now, I know you can do this son, and I need you to do this. I won't be long."

Standing, John brushed his hand through Sam's hair and started back on course: the road leading to his truck. Sam followed his father's brooding figure until the forest swallowed him with its unmerciful darkness, and in that immediate closure, his eyes slammed shut. The silence was for a moment peaceful to Sam, but the angry roar of John's truck broke his reverie, the truth having encased his blackened thoughts once more.

Taking the steps towards his personal heart break hotel, Sam stood in the small room and closed the door behind him.

Braving his fears, Sam lowered his body down and seated himself this time on the bed, just below Dean's lifeless and bloodied knees. Sighing, Sam couldn't bring his eyes to look at the body for the thousandth time that night, but inwardly, there were questions overlapped by cold, hurtful answers.

Answers that Sam knew he would never hear aloud.

"I remember, when we were kids," Sam began, playing with a cracked and worn mattress button, his mind going into overload with the memories and tales from a time long before this moment. "When we were kids, you were always there. I...I remember you pushed me off my bike when I first learned how to ride. Told me to stop cryin' and get up, because that's how life would treat me. But you didn't. Even then, when you knocked me down, I saw the heartache in your eyes over such a simple life lesson, man. There were other times too, ya know, times... when I would catch you taking the blame for something stupid I had done, just so Dad would lay off of me. You...you were always there for me, with me. Around me. You were the one who taught me how to hunt, how to stay alive even in the worst case scenario's. You were th-," Sam stopped, his eyes pooling with the salty water as his body shook from a pain too great to continue on.

He just needed Dean to know. To know how much he loved him, to know how much he needed him back. Moving his body closer, Sam laid a hand over Dean's chest and whispered, "I don't know what I'm gonna do now Dean..."

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John found himself at the crossroads, alone and anxious. His personals grouped together in the small tin box, John dug the hole and screamed for the bastard demon to show its face. "Come on you bitch! I know you can hear me!" His words went deaf into the night wind, and standing there, he knew this was his punishment. He knew they were refusing him in the most desperate of times.

"Please..." he whispered, falling to his knees and covering his mouth with dirty, worn hands. "My boy..." he whispered, over and over, hoping, praying for anything to come along and hear his petition for salvation.

"I'm not supposed to be anywhere near here or you, John Winchester, so make this fast," she said, her red eyes flashing down at him as if the fire from hell were burning behind the curtains of her now blue gaze.

Standing up, John glared at her, his eyebrows furrowed with a mixture of pain and desperation. "I need to make a deal," he speaks, hoping she would at least hear him out. "Please...please, I need to make a deal for my son," he begs, hands arms hanging limply at his sides. Stepping closer to her demonic face than he ever would without killing it in the past, he feels her hot breath against his cool skin and understands the predicament he's in.

John hears a quiet sigh, followed with a maniacal giggle and he knows: this demon bitch will do anything but give him a deal. "Oh Johnny boy, you've reached the finish line and yet here you are, groveling at my feet. You're son, killed our ..."leader," and you want me to help you out?" Crossing her pale arms and piercing him with a heated glare, John's head falls against his chest, eyes now facing the ground on account of the mocking tone in her voice. He had expected this the moment he arrived here.

"Please," he whispers, fighting the overwhelming urge to slump down and beg on his hands and knees. "I...I can't let..."

The demon struts a fine-tuned circular pattern around John, her eyes burning the truth into his tortured soul: "you can't let him...go, can you?" She teases, a smile breaking her near perfect features. "Oh, poor daddy is left all alone...oh, but with his favorite son still alive? John you really should consider all the good that still remains; surely you see this?"

Stopping, she offers him her hands; nails painted a blood red, their appearance one that resembles that of the liquid fire in her eyes. "Don't be shy. Walk with me a moment," she says, her voice smooth and refined. Shaking his head, his eyebrows group together in a painful expression, and finally, his temper is lost.

"NO! Can you make a fucking deal for me, or not?" John screams, pushing her hands away from his mid section, his face twisted in disgust. Tears now threatening to escape the boundaries of his strong will, but as surely as his rage surged, it diminishes, vanishing along with a mere whisper of the wind surrounding them.

"I... just," he says, one final time, one final plea; shoulders awkwardly hunched, his lungs barely taking in their full capacity. Lifting his gaze to meet her own, he sees her walk slowly to him, one finger tip placed on the bottom of his chin, almost as if she were seducing him. His eyes speak to her; begging for a resolution to the thousands of mistakes that lead him to this moment.

Her lips part open slowly, eyes closed, and for a split fraction of time, John nearly feels the kiss placed softly against his mouth. "No," she sighs, and he knows it's done. No deal. No chance.

Only his dead first born, lying on the steel springs of a mattress that time long ago had abandoned.

John's eyes flashed wide open as the stillness of the night enveloped him, the demon having disappeared and left him behind: the destruction of his conscience laced with the aftermath of his loss now waging their assault within him.

The hard truth that he would never see Dean alive again. Never shake his hand or piss him off. Never watch him from across an old motel room with the eyes of a proud father too frightened to share his secrets of life. Never hear him breathe. Laugh. Scream. Cry or curse. Nothing ever again.

John Winchester never felt such monumental pressure towards the word 'forever,' but he knew now what it meant: the length of his life remaining until his own last breaths were taken and his war against regret and loss were ceased.

He knew it would be forever until he saw his son again, and it was all of his own doing.

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