Disclaimer: I don't own or make a profit from Supernatural.

A/N: This is my response to the prompt given to me by ObuletShadowStalker for the SFTCOL(AR)S summer fic exchange round three. Pimp the Limp!

Thanks to Starliteyes17 for her awesome beta skills.

Til' Death Do Us Part

"So I have an idea."

Dean's entire frame slumped at those words. He was sitting in a chair beside his bed, a grease-stained rag in one hand and his disassembled Berretta in the other. He dropped the gun onto the bed, braced his elbows on his knees and let his head droop below his shoulders. He swore to God that nothing good ever followed after those words from out of his brother's mouth. That and Sam's number one favorite, "So, I've been thinking…" Both sentences were sure to make Dean's skin crawl.

"Gawd, shoot me now."

Dean was certain that Sam had been running the hamster all day while in the car, but his little brother was nothing if not a strategist. He waited until they were stopped for the night and all of Dean's weapons were pieced out before speaking. That combination right there told Dean that whatever Sam was going to say, was bad. So bad that he waited until his big brother wasn't armed and couldn't crash the car with them both in it.

"Wait, give me a minute and I'll do it myself." Dean dropped the rag and picked up the Berretta to reassemble it.

"Dean, seriously. We have to talk."

Oh God, it was just getting worse. If Sam stayed on this track they would end up hugging or some shit. That was something to be avoided at all costs. The only arms Dean wanted around him were of the soft, feminine persuasion, and while Sam at his worse moments could be quite girly, he just didn't do it for Dean.

Sam was sitting on the opposite bed, facing Dean when he suddenly stood up and leaned over to stop Dean from reassembling his weapon, forcing him to look up. Once he was sure that he had Dean's attention, he sat back down, his long-fingered hands dangling between his legs, his eyes wide with sincerity.

Dean sighed deeply, his eyes closing for just a moment to block out his brother's face. Once he was sure that he had found his Zen spot, he reopened them, mentally prepared for anything his brother had to say. Or so he thought.

"I think I know how to save your soul."

Every neuron in Dean's brain came to a shuddering halt at those words. For the last eleven months he had been playing along with Sam's desperate search to save him from the devil, never imagining that his brother would actually do it.

The thing was, Dean didn't want Sam to save him. Sam couldn't save him. It wasn't a possibility, because saving Dean meant losing Sammy again and that wasn't something that was acceptable.


Dean dropped his eyes, picking up his gun and rag, keeping his hands busy so he didn't end up throwing punches into the wall.

"What? Dean, what do you mean 'no'?"

"Just what I said." Dean's tone was clipped, cool and removed. It drove Sam absolutely batshit.

He shot up from the bed and began to pace their small motel room. Dean didn't even flinch at Sam's ill-concealed frustration. He kept his eyes locked onto his task, his hands steady.

Sam ground to a stop beside Dean, a towering pillar of emotion.

"Dean, I can save you."

It was too much. Dean couldn't handle anymore. Everything in his life had gone to shit and now this. He shot up from his seat so quickly that Sam stumbled back before regaining his balance to stand toe-to-toe with his brother.

"I don't care, Sam. Do you hear me? I don't give a fuck. I'm not going to let you do it."

"What is the matter with you, Dean? Do you want to die that badly? Are you so ready just to give up on everything?"

"Yeah, Sammy. I am. I'm done. I'm tired."

Sam literally saw red. It was just at the fringes of his vision, so all that he saw was his brother's face haloed in a dark, blood color. He set his jaw, reached out and shoved with all his might. Dean hit the back wall so hard that Sam was almost afraid that he would go through the drywall. Normally, he would be concerned, but at the moment he couldn't bring himself to care. He was too fucking pissed off.

"That's so goddamn unfair, Dean!" Sam screamed from between clenched teeth. Fury locked his jaw muscles so tight that he couldn't even unwind them to speak properly.

Dean hauled himself out of the dent in the plaster, fists up, and fully prepared to brawl with his little brother, but Sam was already turning his back, flinging his hands in the air above his head in frustration.

"Why do you get to fucking die while I have to stay here?" Sam spun around, shoving both his splayed hands into his own chest, his chin thrust out defiantly, and his face scrunched up in agony.

"Why do I have to stay here alone while you get to go off and be a goddamn, fucking martyr, you fucking bastard?"

Dean lowered his fists to stare at his brother. It was a sad, pussy-whipped fact, (a hold-over from his time with Jess, Dean was sure) that the only time Sam used that many curse words in a sentence was when he was on the cusp of a full-blown mental breakdown. Or he was about to be strangled, something Sam detested more than strained spinach, one of the two.

Dean was going to have to give something up here. Sam was slowly imploding the closer to crunch time it got. For nearly a year now, Dean had held it all in. He played the big brother stoicism card like a freakin' champ, but now he was going to have to fess up to something. Anything to let his brother know that he really did care. Freakin' chick flick moments. Freakin' little brothers and their, "I wanna talk about my feelings," moments.

"I'm not going to let you die again, Sam." Dean's voice cracked a little, and he had to stop and clear his throat. "I can't watch that again. I won't. I can't. It was…" The most horrible fucking thing I've ever had to live through in my life and that includes mom burning. "You've survived without me once before and you can do it again. You don't need me anymore, little bro. You're going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay."

Dean swiped his hand across his face, pretending that he was massaging away a headache while trying to hide the tears in his eyes from Sam. He didn't think he could do this anymore. Just a few more weeks and he wouldn't have to see Sam's miserable, hangdog expressions any longer. That's what was truly killing him, the look of longing and agony on Sam's young face every time he looked at Dean.

"Is this what this is all about? Me?"

"It's always been about you, Sam." Dean whipped his hand away from his face in a cutting motion, putting more distance between him and Sam. This was getting to be too much, too personal. "I didn't save your ass just to let you die again. That's what will happen if we try to cross the bitch. She'll drop you like road kill. Why can't you just fucking get it?"

"Yeah, Dean. I get it. You're all about saving me." Sam wouldn't allow Dean to push him away. As soon as his brother's hand dropped he invaded Dean's personal space, putting himself right in front of him. He reached out a big hand, clasping it over Dean's shoulder, his watery eyes peering down until it seemed to Dean that he was looking right into his broken soul. "But, we're not like other people. We know things that they don't. We know how to work the system, even if we shouldn't. I get it. Perks of the job. That's what I'm trying to tell you."

Dean shook Sam's hand off of him, and turned away so he could look down at his guns spread out on the bed. He didn't want to look at Sam anymore. He didn't want to be reminded of his many failures in life. Of how he couldn't protect the ones that he loved.

"What, Sam? What are you trying to tell me?"

"That I can save us both."

Dean fell silent. Slowly he turned his head so that his green eyes were glaring holes into Sam's skull. He wouldn't admit it, but dying did have its allure. To finally be free of the responsibility of his life. To no longer have to exist in a world where fucked up things happened to good people who didn't deserve it. Just to be able to rest. Simply rest. Yeah, it was tempting, but it was also fucking terrifying. Hell wasn't a place he wanted to vacation in. He was pretty damn certain that it wasn't going to be a freakin' trip to Tahiti, that was for sure, but that wasn't what twisted up his guts. It was the thought of leaving Sam alone and unprotected that really mentally screwed his brainpan.

"How's that?" Dean's tone was as neutral as possible, but Sam knew he had him on the hook, which made the next part so much harder.

"When she comes to take your soul you can trap her and exorcise her." Dean gave him a look that had you're a dumbass written all over it. If it was only that easy, they wouldn't be having this conversation.

"Let's just say for the sake of argument that the bitch can be trapped."

"I already have a way." Sam spit out quickly, and Dean's lips tightened.

"Of course, you do. Anyways, so we trap her. As soon as she figures out that we are double-crossing her she'll drop you like a hunk of horsemeat. Like I told you before, Sammy, I'm not going to let that happen."

"No, she won't, 'cause I'll already be dead."

The silence that descended onto the room this time was so thick that it nearly choked them. Dean was staring hard enough to make Sam twitch. Sam expected a lot of reactions, even the one that he got. Too bad he still wasn't prepared for it.

Dean landed a left hook squarely across his jaw, whipping Sam's head back on his neck. Sam contained every urge in his body that demanded that he retaliate, holding himself perfectly still. He cocked his head, looking down at his brother from his superior height.

"You're a moron," Dean hissed, turning away from him to pace to the other side of the room.

"Dean, listen to me. I won't be dead dead, just mostly dead."

Dean stopped his pacing, his back to Sam. He glanced over his shoulder, his jade eyes glimmering with loathing. Sometimes he wondered how it was possible that his little brother could be such a genius and a complete fucking idiot at the same time.

"Do I look like Billy fucking Crystal to you, Sammy? I don't have any magic, chocolate-coated pills in my pocket, you freak."

Sam raised his hand in supplication, waving it in front of him as if he could ward off Dean's death glare.

"Look. What I mean is, all I have to do is die for a couple of minutes. Just long enough for you to do the exorcism ritual. Once the bitch is gone then a couple of ccs of adrenaline to the heart should wake me right back up."

Dean spun around to face Sam, his hand slapped over his forehead like he was trying to prevent the mother of all alien worms from burrowing its way out of his skull.

"What the fuck are you talking about, Sammy?" As soon as he spoke, Dean's face went from incredulous to mutinous. He dropped his hand, waving it at his brother instead. "You know what? Never mind. I don't want to know. The answer is no, Sam. You are not dying in any way, shape or form. Do you got that?"

He brushed past Sam, and seated himself back in his chair, dismissing the conversation entirely. Sam didn't let him.

"Look, once the demon gets sent back to Hell all collections on existing deals becomes null and void. That means you get to keep your soul, and I get to stay alive. Yeah, eventually she'll crawl her way out, but even then she won't have the power to take your soul or to kill me. The only window she has to do either is when the full year is up. If I'm dead during those few minutes then there is nothing that she can do. My soul will already be in the keeping of a Reaper and she can't take it. The only place it can go is back into my body."

"Or the Reaper could take it. What if you can't be woken back up, Sam? Did you ever think about that?"

Sam didn't answer, and Dean didn't look at him. He concentrated hard on cleaning his guns.

"Dean this could work."

"No. That's final." Dean's voice was so cold that it could have frozen lava. Sam spun away from him, facing the blank wall. He brushed a shaky hand through his long, shaggy hair.

There were a lot of things about his life that had, and still did freak him out. The yellow-eyed demon's plans for him, (scratch that off the to-do list), his supposed destiny to become evil, (yeah, whatever, bite me bitch), the fact that he had been resurrected and there was a chance that something vital was now missing from his soul, (okay, scary), but all that shit was doable. As long as Dean was right there beside him, Sam could take on the world. He could do anything with his big brother there to help hold him up.

"You won't do it because I might die."

"Ding, ding, ding give the college boy a prize."

Sam took a deep breath, spinning slowly to face Dean, who was still glaring at his dismantled weapons. He reached behind him, feeling the cool, pearl grip of his .45 as he pulled it from the waistband of his baggy jeans. In one step he was standing next to Dean, his gun straight along his thigh. He wrapped one strong hand around the back of his brother's neck, pinching the nerves painfully, and wrenched Dean's head to the side.

"What the fuck, Sam?"

Dean tried to stand, but Sam had the advantage of position. He bore down and his grip on Dean's neck tightened, making his brother's legs weak.

"Do you see this?"

Sam shoved the pistol into Dean's face, practically rubbing his nose in it like he would a puppy that shit on the floor.

"You are about to get your ass severely kicked, bro."

Dean shoved his arm into Sam's stomach, but it did no good. Before Dean could tell his brother to go fuck himself, Sam flipped the safety off, half-cocked the hammer to the first click and pressed the barrel of the gun to his own head. The room went completely still. Dean was pretty fucking sure that even the angels, if they existed, had stopped breathing it was so fucking still. He ceased struggling immediately, afraid that if he jostled his brother even a little the hair trigger would go off and Sammy brains would be the newest decoration feature on the walls of their craptastic room.

"Do you see me, Dean?" Sam said softly, releasing his grip on his brother's neck. He was squatting now beside Dean's chair, meeting his brother's eyes.

"Yah, I see you, Sammy," Dean replied just as softly.

Tears flowed down Sam's face, so bright and shiny they were almost beautiful. Dean hadn't seen Sam cry like that since the day he took his gun and shot Madison square in the chest. Not since the day that Sam realized for the first time that they wouldn't be able to save everyone. That maybe they wouldn't be able to save themselves either.

"The day that you die, to the minute that she takes your soul, I'm going pull the trigger on this gun. Do you understand me, Dean? If you die, I die. That's all there is to it. I'm not going to go on without you. I refuse."

Dean had lost count of the thousands of times that Sam had demanded something from him or refused to do something over the years. His little brother's petulant voice was etched across his brain like the scratches on an old record. He knew when his brother was whining just to be a whiner, but the tone that Sam was using held none of that. It was soft, earnest and truthful.

"That's fucking stupid, Sam. You're just doing this to manipulate me into doing what you want, but I'm not going to fall for it. You can make it on your own. You can do something with your life." Dean's voice was so low that if Sam wasn't right there in his face he wouldn't have heard it. That didn't detract from its forcefulness though. Dean's absolute conviction that Sam could survive without him was vibrant in every word.

"Why would you think that I would want to, Dean? What would be the point? Do you think I can just pick up my life where I left off? Go on to law school, find a pretty girl to squeeze out some kids for me and live a happy tra-la-la life?"

"Yes," Dean hissed his green eyes blazing from beneath the tears that had begun to slide down his cheeks.

"No," Sam hissed back. They were nose to nose now. Dean was leaning out of his seat, and Sam was on his knees beside him. Sam's thumb depressed, and the last click of the hammer of the .45 falling into place echoed in the room like a gunshot. All Sam had to do now was twitch his finger back and Dean would finally see what his little brother's genius brain looked like.

"Fuck waiting around, Dean. I'll do it right now and put us both out of our misery. That way you won't have to worry about me doing something crazy after you're gone. Maybe I'll just beat you to the punch. It was supposed to be that way anyhow. After all, I did die first, right?"

Dean glared hard at Sam. He thought about swallowing, but his throat was just too damned dry. This whole goddamn picture was just so wrong. He shouldn't be sitting there staring at his little brother while a gun barrel was pressed to his temple. He should be out getting drunk and laid, preferably at the same time, not wondering if he could jerk his brother's pistol away fast enough before he got brain splatter all over his favorite shirt. It was just so damned unfair. All of it. His brother's blatant manipulation. Their parents dying the way they had. Fuck. Their whole damn life was unfair.

"I hate you," Dean whispered, and Sam's lips twitched.

"No, you don't. Because if you did then you would have let me stay dead. You didn't then and you won't now. This plan is going to work, because it has to. There is no way that either of us can do this alone."

And there it was. The truth of the matter. The absolute, dead on bull's-eye, arrow through the heart, truth. Neither of them could do it alone. Well, they could, but they didn't want to, so they wouldn't. Winchesters were a damn stubborn lot. Once they had decided on something there was nothing short of the end of the world that was going to change their minds.

Sam saw the acceptance and acknowledgement in Dean's eyes, and he met it with his own. They'd give Sam's plan a shot. If it didn't work then the outcome would be exactly the same as if they hadn't tried. Two dead Winchesters, burning on a funeral pyre built by Bobby.

Dean reached out and gently took the gun from his brother's hand. He wanted to beat him into the ground with it. He wanted to hug Sam until he couldn't breathe. He wanted a different life where a gun was never pointed at his little brother.

"All right, Sam. I'll kill you."

Sam smiled, his face and eyes lightening up with genuine happiness. His two dimples flashed in his cheeks, and Dean felt the dark hole that was eating him alive widen just a bit more.

"But if you don't come back, I swear to God that I will go into Hell and drag your ass back myself."