Yay, story. Written in an hour from 2:30-3:30am, so please pardon any mistakes. (How fun was this to write? I love Sam so very much.)

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Aglaope

(inevitability remix)

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There's a jerk like an abrupt exhale and he suddenly can't see a thing. The rotting house still surrounds him with its slow decay but nothing registers. A rushing sound like the sea against rocks flows over him. There is the smell of salt and incense and Dean steps around a corner.

Oh, he glows. He casts a soft light that makes Sam want to weep because it's beautiful and he's always believed that's what an angel would look like. In this moment, with his brother standing before him, it makes sense. There is peace and light and Dean.

"Oh, Sam," Dean breathes softly (a dozen feet away but it carries like music). "I'm sorry I wasn't there."

Confused now. Sam tries to step forward (towards that light, so inviting it hurts almost) but his feet won't move. "You're right here, Dean."

His brother smiles so gently, his eyes so sad. "You don't remember." He takes a step forward. "I died."

Sam parrots the last word back. He feels befuddled, but not terribly upset. After all, Dean's right there.

"Been gone, oh, three years." Dean's approaching, his movements more like gliding than walking. "Time was up, the hounds came for me. You tried, Sam, I know, and I'm real proud of you."

There's a question Sam needs to ask, he can feel it burning the back of his tongue. Something about soul and hell tickling about in his head, but he can't quite put words to the thought. Instead, he settles for, "I…I don't…It feels like I just saw you."

"I know. It's okay," his brother hums soothingly (voice like shining brass, and it fills his heart so very full to hear the glory of it).

"Am I dead?" Sam whispers, and Dean nods solemnly. "What happened?"

"Just a misstep. Wasn't there to look after you, and you got gutted. I'm so sorry," Dean murmurs regretfully.

Sam sinks to his knees, overwhelmed. He stares down at his shirt, but there's no sign of injury. He wonders if he's glowing too, he just can't see it. Dean closes the gap between them, and he's so blinding up close. One hand comes up, cradles Sam's chin. Forces Sam to look up into Dean's face.

(There is an odd repeated noise in the background—like a name—coming in as an indistinct drone as if through many layers of cotton, but Sam is fixated on Dean and pays it no mind.)

Dean's skin is cooler than Sam would've imagined, but it tingles wonderfully. Every thought he's ever had of angels is flooding into his mind, and Dean smiles beatifically. "It's okay," he sings, and that's what it is—singing. Sam realizes Dean's been singing this entire time, sweet words like a balm. "Let's go. We'll sleep now."

Sam nods, tears streaming down his face.

Dean's grip on Sam's chin tightens fondly, and then his other hand is reaching for Sam's chest. There's a tugging sensation, and then, and then—

Two gunshots crack loudly, and blood blossoms through Dean's shirt. He looks down and snarls for a split second, then the glow redoubles and he's yanking Sam's face up sharply, lips descending frantically. Four more rounds explode just before contact, and Dean topples backwards.

Sam crashes down onto the floor. Almost instantly, however, he scrabbles over to Dean's still form and shakes him gently. The light is fading fast, and Sam's probing fingers come away from Dean's skull covered in sticky red-tinged matter. The song, the song is gone, and he feels so empty now that he begins to bawl hysterically—long choking sobs equal parts grief and helplessness.

A hand pulls at his shoulder, and Sam turns to see Dean standing there above him, breathing harshly. He's sweating and covered in filth, dust and cobweb strands clinging to his jacket. A hot automatic dangles from his hand, and his eyes are panicked.

Sam's head aches, and he turns back to his glowing Dean, only to find the twisted, ashen death-face of the siren they'd been hunting. He flings himself away from it, repulsed.

Dean—dark, dirty, pinched with the knowledge of five months, two weeks, six days left until he goes like his father before him—offers Sam a hand and pulls him to his feet. Sam wipes at the snot on his face, ashamed.

Dean doesn't say it's okay as they drag the siren's body outside to burn. It's not okay.

It will never be okay, not for them, not in this life or beyond.

Sam should've remembered that.