I disclaim all. Supernatural isn't mine. Aside from a car I don't even drive, I own nothing. No money's being made from this.

Note: It's been a while since I've posted anything. While it's true I'm a tremedously slow writer for big stuff, I've spent months in a dry spell. I'm not overly fond of the start of S3 (I know, I'm an anomaly - the guys just don't seem to click as much for me), and that might be part of it.

However, I had an image in my mind that would not fade. I've attempted to show it here, in the hopes someone else might see it and be touched by it as well.

In the Pale Moonlight

In his dreams, the moon was always full and the night hazy blue. Sometimes the dreamscape was quiet and winter and he walked through birch trees, trunks pale and creamy, bark peeling like papyrus. There was only the sound of his own feet crunching in fresh snow, his breath a translucent vapor trail behind him and, within him, a sensation of total peace. A slight breeze shook snowflakes from branches. It dusted his shoulders, melted sharply on his nose and cheeks when he lifted his face to it. The crispness of the air, the sweet-smelling cold, tangible, full of vitality, lingered on his tongue after he awoke and left him longing.

"We should take a right up here."

"I think I see it."

The cemetery was just outside city limits. It probably hadn't seen a new burial for years, and was filled with old, ornate markers and monuments. The moon threw shadows of them that were deeply dark and defined, and somehow beautiful. He had always thought graveyards were as calming as they were distressing, as picturesque as they were grotesque. He could never have admitted that out loud years ago, certainly not while he had raged so hard against the hunt and all that came with it, and he couldn't admit it now. Back then it would have made him feel like more of a freak than he already had, and now cemeteries were also too steeped in death and demons and destruction. Dean and Dean and Dean.

"You dig tonight, little brother."

The shovels he carried pressed heavily into his shoulder. On cases that didn't require them to battle on two fronts, like this one, they sometimes took turns with the more tedious aspects of a salt and burn. Usually, because the quicker they got done the better, they broke up the earth in tandem, each so attuned to the sweeping motions of the other that the excavation was almost like a dance. An art. He shook his head, couldn't believe it himself, that he'd thought of grave desecration in those terms.

"It'll go faster if we do it together."

It seemed everything went faster when they did it together and, truthfully, that scared the shit out of him lately. He felt so alone since Dean had bartered his life away, poorly. He wanted so damned much to not be alone, though he knew if he and Dean could walk the same path instead of diverging further and further apart, then that would mean the year would somehow only go faster, and take his brother with it when it left. He was trapped forever in wanting to alleviate the pain he felt in the present, wanting what would just bring him so much more pain in the end.

"Is there a big rush?"

"No, I guess there doesn't have to be."

In his dreams, the moon was always full and the night hazy blue. Sometimes the dreamscape was thick with blowing snow and yawping wind as he walked almost blindly, hands out and searching. The cold was cruel, angry, unrelenting as it seeped into him and flayed at his skin. Every once in a while, he would stumble and fall, each time more difficult to recover from than the last. Eventually, his limbs became cumbersome with the snow that clung to his jacket, the cold of it leaching through fabric and into his flesh and bones. He could not move and could barely breathe. The suffocating snow, the acrid smell of the cold, tangible, full of despair, lingered on his sweaty brow after he awoke and left him dreading.

"Okay, here lies Lucille von Wrangel, vengeful spirit and bane of Twin Falls, Idaho. Lucy, I'm ho-ome."

For a moment or two he did not move, suddenly transfixed with watching Dean's shadow on the ground. It was elongated and misshapen by tree branch silhouettes that moved and crept along it like phantom limbs. He wondered why he couldn't find the beauty in Dean's shadow like he could those created by grave markers. Dean was too full of life, maybe, for this place and his shadow couldn't fit. Some of the pressure lifted from his shoulder. A shovel full of dirt landed on his boots, Dean having given in and started the task despite his early protestation. He swung his own tool down, dug instinctively like he always did. The night air was filled with hollow scraping sounds as the blades cut into dirt, the rhythm and the cadence for their macabre dance until the abrupt, dissonant end, with metal against old wood, scraping, splintering.

"I got the salt. Don't want to smell like lighter fluid all night."

"Of course."

They would both smell of ash and soot and sweat, a pungent mix of life and death. It was a smell that didn't easily wash from their skin, such a part of who they were it was impossible to cleanse of it altogether. Part of him wished they could, part of him knew it was essential and that everyone in the world smelled, always, of both energy and loss. One could not exist without the other. He clambered free of the hole, reached for the accelerant. He doused the yellowed bones and tattered cloth in the grave below to saturation point, thinking of how Lucille von Wrangel had just been a person whose spirit was too filled with bereavement for her to escape her fate. Dean lit the match, flicked it, and the night quickly became a dull, smoky orange.

Mutely, he stood watching the fire while Dean skirted the edges of the burning gravesite, collecting their stuff. He looked at his own shadow behind him, as it rippled and moved in time with the licking flames. It was a spastic dance, and ugly. Dangerous, he thought, and wrong for this place, but for different reasons than Dean's shadow was.

"This one's blazing pretty hot."

In his dreams, the moon was always full and the night hazy blue. Sometimes the dreamscape was desolate with leafless trees and inexplicably bare ground, the air filled with a haunted tune that came from far off. He walked toward the music, at once intrigued and terrified at what he might find. Fallen and decaying trunks and branches blocked his path, made the journey difficult but he could do no more than move forward. If he stayed, the music would drive him mad and if he fled he would never know what it meant. The trees thinned, a clearing opened before him. There was a crackling fire. He could feel the heat from where he stood, partially hidden among the circle of trees. He saw Dean there, dancing a slow waltz with a striking, dark-haired woman. The woman turned to him, acknowledging his presence though Dean did not see him. Her face was filled with moving shadows from the fire and moonlight and naked tree branches, and her expression was malevolent. He recognized her. She wasn't a beautiful woman at all. She was Death. He lunged forward to pull his brother from her. Dean finally turned to him and shook his head, walked away with his arm around Death. The choking warmth, the charred smell of the air, tangible, full of misery, lingered in his throat as a hoarse shout when he awoke and left him empty.

"Come on, let's go. We're wasting moonlight."

"Coming."

He followed Dean, eyes focused on a spot between his brother's scapulae. Dean walked lightly, not hindered by the melancholy that plagued him. He started to doubt they would ever be on the same path, at the same point, again. Dean saw Death as a beautiful woman and so ran toward it instead of away like he should. He saw Death as fire and brimstone and agony and wanted so much to keep his brother out of its grasp, but Dean purposefully evaded his searching, scrabbling, desperate hands. Dean turned around unexpectedly, walking backwards; he held out his arms and inspected them.

"What do you know? No dirt. I'll drop you off at the room. I've got a date with a hot chick."

He wanted to ask his brother to stay in tonight, but knew it would be futile. Dean had already turned back away from him and he would run to that beautiful woman, dance with her in the pale moonlight. Dean would run from him and flee his own life.

And he would be left all alone, alive but not alive.