AN: Holy God, it's been a long time since I wrote fanfiction. I'm kicking my own ass, mentally, right now, for writing this and then posting it... I promised myself several months ago I would stop writing fanfic altogether. I just had to get this out of my system because I haven't seen it done before.
So this is my first and last SPN fanfic. It isn't betaed, revised for content, or anything. Just is what it is, and I hope it's not too OOC.
The title comes from this amazing song, "Ten Million Years" by Black Lab, which I adore and which remind me of Sam and Dean.
As always -- absolutely no slash intended.
And to my faithful readers, I'm so sorry I left some stuff hanging in the air! I just have moved on from fanfic, as a writer.
Warning: spoilers for AHBL I&II.
Ten Million Years
When collection day comes, they're sitting in the Impala, parked in the lot behind Saint Wenceslaus Catholic Church of Bee, Nebraska. Their last case was a demon in Omaha, and when Dean pulled out of the city asking Sam to name a destination, Sam picked Bee.
"You know," Dean says, staring at the windshield. "No one gives a fuck about Nebraska. What the fuck happens in Nebraska? It's like the most useless state in the Union."
"Smack in the middle of the country," Sam says.
"Wonder if that makes the country nowhere."
The corners of Sam's mouth twitch.
"And Bee? How does this town even exist?" Dean continues. "It's the middle of the middle of nowhere."
"Bet you ten bucks the population doesn't even hit three hundred."
"Dude, I can't bet against that; I know the population doesn't hit three hundred. I'm thinkin' – fifty."
Sam snorts, wiggles back into his seat and tries shoving his hands in his pants pockets.
"Fine, I'll bet you it's more than fifty."
Dean arches an eyebrow at his brother. "You want my leftover credit cards? I'll give 'em to you – no, I seriously will, if you want 'em."
Sam turns his head away from Dean, face almost pressed against his window, smiling.
"Nah, I don't think I'll need any of those much longer."
"Going to make an honest living, huh? I'm not surprised."
"'S not it, Dean."
They don't speak for a while, unsure of how to have this conversation they've been avoiding the last three hundred and sixty-five days. Not once did they mention good-byes or what Sam would do without Dean. They hunted, Sam researched, and Dean lived the way he always had because it was all he wanted – his car, his job, and his brother.
"You did good, Sammy," he says, peering out his own window into the marigold sunlight. "Did everything you could, more than I thought anyone could. I never thanked you but – I'm doing it now, if it means anything."
"Cut the crap, man," Sam mutters, grief beginning to permeate his voice. "I didn't – I couldn't—"
"Doesn't matter. You did your best."
"My best wasn't enough."
Another silence lapses. Dean can't bring himself to turn on the radio; they need to hear each other now, no matter how much it stings. He clenches his jaw, shuts his eyes, tries to swallow back the nausea. He can't look at Sam because his fear is too overwhelming to hide.
"Dean," Sam says, his pain crossing the car and undulating through his brother. "Jesus, Dean—"
"You gotta live, Sammy," Dean chokes. "Promise me you'll walk away from this and live. I don't care what you do with your life, as long as you keep going."
Sam whispers it, deadly, the worst pain Dean's been in since Sam died.
"I can't. You can't ask me to do that."
"You can have a life, Sam. You can get married, have kids, go back to school, whatever you want. You're smart, you're—"
"No!" Sam shouts. "I don't want any of it!"
"Don't be stupid. Don't throw everything away just because—"
"Because I'm losing my brother? What the hell do you think you did, Dean? You think you're the only one here who—"
He stops, finally looking at Dean, who still won't look at him.
"You should've left me dead," Sam says. "Because that's how this is going to end anyway. You're going to hell, and it didn't even change anything."
Dean turns around in his seat, eyes gleaming and bloodshot.
"I got one more year. That's worth it."
"One more year of what, Dean?" Sam screams, lurching forward toward his brother. "Do you understand hell, for eternity? Nothing's worth that! Nothing!"
"A year of being alive," Dean says. "Happy. With you."
Sam sinks and curls back up against the door, sighing and squeezing his eyes shut to refuse the tears.
"What do you think I would've done without this deal, Sam? You think I would've torched your corpse and picked up hunting again? You really think that?"
Sam covers his face with his hands, fingers curled in his hair, and Dean almost sees him as the six-year-old who used to do the same thing whenever he couldn't handle life.
"All I've ever had was this job, Sammy," Dean says. "And Dad and you. It's all I wanted. I could lose Dad and keep going because I had to be strong for you – but I can't be alone, Sam. I can't—can't keep going without you."
"What makes you think I'm any different?" Sam says, dropping his hands down from his face.
"You were different. You hate hunting; you always wanted normal. You have friends, you had Jess. You can still have that, Sam. It can be just like Stanford, like I never showed up to take you back—"
Sam's quick enough that Dean doesn't see the smack coming. His little brother hits him hard across the face, shoves him by the shoulder into the driver's door so that Dean swears he'll bruise in three places.
"Fuck you, you fucking dick!"
"No! Don't you fucking say that! Stanford's over! It was a dream! And I don't want it anymore, for the fiftieth fucking time! What don't you understand? Nothing I do will ever be able to fix this, Dean. You—you—"
Dean looks into Sam's eyes without trying to hide anything. Sam can swear his big brother will start to cry any moment, but Dean doesn't fold. He says Sam's name again, softly, pleading. Sam tells him no.
They don't speak again until the sun is finished setting, and nightfall inks through the sky in puffy, purple-blues.
"I never wanted to hunt," Sam says, once the parking lot lights switch on. "I wanted to be a lawyer, marry Jess. I thought that felt right."
Dean sits still, leaning back in his seat with his eyes closed, wishing he had a bottle of Jim Beam. He won't admit it, but he wishes he could finish his night like this – listening to Sam's voice.
"But you know," Sam adds, "When we're hunting, just you and I, I don't mind it. I learned to see why you do it, why you want it. And I can never – never go back to that life I tried to have. You always told me it wouldn't work out, and it's true."
"I'm sorry," Dean whispers. He shakes his head, nostrils flaring as he grips his thighs.
"This is all that feels right," Sam says, quiet. "When Jess died, I thought I'd never feel like that again; I was wrong."
Dean turns his head a little more, pressing his forehead into the window, biting his lip.
"You and me," Sam breathes, hands trembling. "That's all I want. Don't you?"
Dean pops his door open, stumbles out of the car. He staggers a few yards away before throwing up onto the tar, bracing himself against his knees. He half-sobs, half-yelps, before moaning with the tears he hasn't allowed himself to shed until now. He cries for a minute, before retching again, his whole body shaking so that he thinks he'll collapse. Sam reaches him, gathers Dean into his arms, and Dean's knees give out. He moans, but Sam stays silent, wetting Dean's shoulder.
"They'll take us both," Sam whispers. "I'll go."
Dean can't speak, only cries with his hands gripping fistfuls of Sam's jacket, and Sam clutches his big brother as tight and close as he can, smelling the gasoline and cologne and leather that has always been Dean.
"I love you," he says. "Love you so much."
They move to sit against the Impala, waiting for Dean's demon, and they don't let go of each other. Sam holds his brother, while they cry, wanting to speak but having lost all the words. They savor the feeling of each other's warmth, Sam listening to Dean's breath, Dean listening to Sam's pulse, and they both know they're already dead.
"Sammy," Dean whimpers. "Sammy."
Sam shifts beneath him, pushing himself closer.
The weeds sway nearby, where patches of earth were left unpaved around the lot. They can each feel the cold begin to descend.
"I'm sorry," Dean says, eyes leaking. "I love you, too."
Sam lays his head on Dean's shoulder, stifling a sob. He doesn't think he can hear it enough times, say it enough times, and Dean suddenly regrets he never told his brother much since they were kids. He is surprised by the most intense need to hear Sam tell him again and again because so few people have, because he's never going to hear it again.
"Please," he says but can't finish. "Sam."
And Sam begins to whisper the words, without being asked. The air grows colder and colder around them, lot lights flickering, and they can hear distant growls, begin to smell sulfur. As the barking rises, Sam stops chanting, and they don't need to say more.
"Aww, did Sammy have a nightmare?"
She appears with a pack of robust, black dogs surrounding her, but they are quiet, eyes glinting when the moonlight hits them. The demon wears a red dress, glossy and tight enough to pinch, her dark hair curled. Sam snaps his head over to snarl at her.
"Fuck you, bitch."
"Better get out of the way now, Sam. My boys get carried away when they feed."
She smiles, while one of the dogs barks, and Sam can feel Dean's hold tighten around him.
"You're not taking him."
"Sorry, kiddo. Deals don't break just because you want them to. Now – why don't you get into the car and leave before this gets nasty?"
"You're not taking him," Sam repeats, glaring at her.
"Are death wishes a family tradition, Sam?" she asks, voice sickly sweet. "I can take you too, if that's what you want. You won't be much help to your brother in hell, though."
"No," Dean says, voice hoarse but firm, as he finally looks at her. "I made the deal. I'm going alone."
"Fuck that," Sam answers.
The demon throws her head back and laughs, arching a little, while some of the dogs paw the ground. Their snouts jab at the air, nostrils heaving as they pant with tongues hot enough to steam. Sam squeezes Dean, pulls away, and stands. Dean mimics him and doesn't protest when Sam steps in front of him because his brother's body is as tense as when he killed Jake.
"Oh, boys, what am I supposed to do with you?" the demon croons, crossing her arms. "I don't know what you expect to gain by fighting this, but I promise, it isn't going to stop me from claiming what's mine."
"Go ahead," Sam replies, hands curled into tight fists at his sides. "I'm not moving."
She shrugs, still smiling with those watermelon-pink lips.
"Fine. All the better for my friends. They've been lusting after your souls for years."
"You can't take him," Dean says, brow crinkled and face stained with drying tears. "That isn't part of the deal. It'd be a violation."
"Honey, you really think anyone's keeping tabs? As long as everything we did agree on is upheld, no one's going to stand in the way of extras."
Her violet eyes twinkle, as the head dog steps closer.
"Especially if it's Sammy Winchester's soul," she adds, smirking. "Lucifer would love to get a taste of you, pick you apart."
"Sam, please," Dean says, another tear escaping him. "Please, don't. Just go."
"I'm your brother," Sam replies. "Yours."
Dean slumps, more tears running, and the nausea returns. He rests both hands on his brother's shoulders and thinks he should rock sense into Sam, but instead he leans his head against Sam's back.
"Ready, Sammy?" the demon says, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, as the dogs stir.
"It's Sam, bitch."
Her eyes flash and the hounds leap forward in one, united motion. Sam squeezes his fists, feels Dean grip his shoulders, and he doesn't flinch as the beasts soar toward him, snarling like they haven't eaten in months. Their eyes shine red out of black faces, and the demon stares at Sam with that damned grin, makes him want to break her neck. He waits with a strength he's never felt before, looks straight at those dogs without a sliver of fear. He's never been ready to die until now, and knowing that Dean will be spared a little longer because of him fills Sam with a pride and ecstasy that pumps through him and gives him a high.
Just as Sam takes what he thinks is his last breath, the pack leader drops, landing a foot in front of him. The other dogs follow, all landing soundlessly in front of the men. Their leader sniffs the air, barking, as Sam eyes it warily. The demon stops smiling. Her dogs don't move.
"Go!" she commands. "Claim your kill!"
Sam thinks maybe the dogs really can't take a soul that isn't theirs, and the demon must suspect too, because Sam feels himself moving aside involuntarily.
"No!" he yelps, powerless over his legs. "You fucking bitch!"
Dean squares his shoulders, clenches his jaw, and swallows. His eyes glisten for Sam, who doesn't stop cursing, and he tells himself to be strong, to face the consequences of his choice like a man, his father's son.
"Go!" the demon urges. Sam is far enough away that Dean couldn't reach out to touch him if he wanted to, planted firmly to the spot he stands on, and Dean's wide open, waiting for the hounds.
But the bastards don't move. The pack leader begins to bark, viciousness returning, and the rest join in, their noises rumbling through the ground and filling Dean's head. He stares at their beady, red irises, smells the blood and sulfur on their breath. They snarl and snort and paw the ground, lurching toward him but never stepping past a certain point, an invisible line that shouldn't exist. Sam goes quiet and watches, eyes stinging, wondering why they can't finish the job.
"No!" the demon bellows toward the sky, her voice morphing into a snake-like baritone. "No! It's a myth! A lie! You can't do that!"
Sam and Dean look at each other, as the dogs all but throw themselves toward Dean, and Sam notices a lick of fire whip out of the demon's arm, flickering away just as quick as it appeared. Another one flashes in a different spot and another. She shrieks, body convulsing, and the brothers gawk as flames burst up around her, swallowing her up. The dogs bay until the last one is dissolved into thin air, and they take the smells and cold away with them.
Sam and Dean don't move. They stare at the emptiness where the pack had been, waiting.
"Holy shit," Dean says. He steps forward, hesitantly, pauses. Another step. Sam follows.
"Dean," he says, standing near his brother. "I don't think – I don't think they're coming back."
Over the phone, while Dean guns the Impala down the main road out of Bee, Bobby tells them the only possible explanation is that the hounds were repelled by love.
God, I can't wait for the smartass comments on that one, Sam thinks when Dean echoes it out loud.
"I don't get it," Dean says, still wound up tighter than Sam's seen him in months. "Thousands of people have been taken to hell that way, and they all got someone who loves 'em. Doesn't stop the demons from collecting then, why would it be different with me?"
"What can I say?" Bobby answers. "Somethin' about you and Sam's different. He was with you, for one; most folks go alone. And you said he stood between you and them, right? He wasn't a part of the deal, but he was ready to go with you. That's powerful, Dean – damn powerful. I don't think you realize how much."
"The demon moved him."
"Physically, yeah. But he'd already made the choice. And the fact that you only made the deal in the first place to keep him alive – hell, Dean, a combination like that? I'm not surprised they couldn't touch you, now that I think about it."
"Demons don't care about love, Bobby. They don't care about anything except the rules they follow."
"They don't – but maybe somebody else does. I know you're a skeptic, Dean, when it comes to the good out there, but you said she screamed up, didn't you?"
"So you think she did that for nothin'?"
"Dean, what is he saying?" Sam asks, watching his brother's face and straining to hear Bobby's voice come through the phone.
"You're saying God or some angels or somethin' decided I was worth savin' enough to jump in? Even if they exist, Bobby, what the hell would they want to spare me for? I'm not a saint; I made the deal by choice."
"It's not just about you, Dean," Bobby says. "It ain't about Sam either. It's whatever you got between you. I can't explain it, never heard of anything like it, but it happened."
Dean pauses, grimacing, while Sam waits twisted in his seat and holding his breath, about to snatch the phone out of his brother's hand.
"All right," Dean says. "Thanks, Bobby."
He hangs up, and Sam demands details. The Impala's headlights split the dark open as they speed down an empty stretch of road, and Dean repeats everything he heard, until Sam's face smoothes out.
"Well?" Dean prompts, once they've been quiet a few minutes. "What do you think?"
Sam's eyebrows lift up. "I think he's right. I mean, it makes sense. What else could it be?"
Dean gives a half shake of the head but doesn't answer. Sam relaxes in his seat and stays quiet for a while.
"Whatever it was – I'm just glad it worked," he says eventually. "I meant everything I said, back there."
Dean looks over at him with softened eyes.
When the sun rises, they're in Illinois, and Dean says they aren't going back to Nebraska unless the anti-Christ happens to pop out of a cow there one day. Sam doesn't protest.