When Sam awoke, his hands crinkled the remains of dry, burned grass crumbled in his hands along with a small, hard clump of cold metal. Pushing his torso, he sat up halfway, facing into the slight wind, the breeze ruffling a burst of his bangs. He moved to brush back a stray strand, finding his hand weakly clutched at Dean's golden amulet. His fingers opened wide. The passing gust scattered the brown glass blades away, leaving only the idol.
He didn't recall getting it back, but it glimmered in his now open palm. Wrapping his fingers tightly, he compressed it so securely and so lovingly, the small protrusions on the idol burrowed punctures inside his hand. "Dean..." he choked out as pulled himself up fully, bringing his knees to his chest, holding the bleeding hand to his heart.
"Easy." Bobby delicately nudged Sam's shoulder. "It's all over now…."
It was just as well, Sam didn't notice him. His eyes darted over the desolate plain before him: The landscape merely a burned out end. "Dean…he saved me…"
"I know. When those flames came right out of hell, I thought…"
"I called them...controlled them… I wanted to use them…. I brought hell on earth."
"You saved humanity."
"Dean saved them… and I … I killed him… "
"He was already gone."
"I may not have delivered the final blow, but he...he knew. He died to save me. Why did he have to sacrifice again! Why did he always have to take all the pain!?" He cried as his voice trailed off, the words lost as Sam seemed to grow younger and younger, looking like the most lost man anyone had ever seen.
"Cause…. Just cause…he was stronger…"
"It's not good enough! Not for him."
"I tried to save him… I brought the flames here to restore him, but I think…it was too late…."
"We have to go now." Bobby spoke quietly. "All the demons are gone-dead- and I locked the gate." Bobby holds out the colt for Sam as a token. "I think Dean would have wanted you to have this back."
"I don't want it… I want…. Why couldn't I save him!? I had all that power and when I could use it..."
"When it had a'hold of ya… you never would have saved him."
"What good is it if I can call all the power and save him? I tried so hard at the end, and I could only watch him slip away. I demanded Hell to give him back to me… I'm going back there for him."
"I don't think he's in Hell anymore… otherwise he wouldn't have been able to stop you. He fulfilled his bargain…."
"He… he can't be gone….Where is he? There has to be something left….some part…"
"His body…. I don't know. That fired burned damn near everything. Would have toasted my rear had I not been by the gate." Bobby hated to tell Sam that even Dean's body may not be recoverable.
"Dean…he…god…" Sam rubbed the heels of his hands over his closed eyes, as if trying to erase the picture frozen for all of eternity- the final image of Dean blowing away like dust. Slowly he curled himself tighter. "I was in trouble…and Dean came to find me. He always comes to find me. He was protecting me again when…" And for the last time in his life, Sam lost his way. "We have to find…"
"We'll look. He deserves that much."
"He deserves more!" Sam screamed. "I was stupid. I let my anger and rage blind me and this is the consequences. I should have been stronger. He shouldn't have done this! I wanted to save him! WHY DID HE NOT LET ME!!"
"I know…that boy…" Bobby hesitated, not wanting to give up on Dean either. "Always had a bigger heart than sense. Come on, we'll look together." In a move that was more of dragging Sam up than helping him up, Bobby knew he had to get the broken man out of here. "He'd want us to go…"
Sam uncurled himself, moving towards the ruined graveyard. He staggered past Bobby, refusing to hear anymore. Even the tombstones seemed to have cracked under the intense heat. When the sky opened up with rain, he couldn't hold back his emotions. Maybe it was a way for the world to mourn the loss of Dean with him, he imagined. It seemed a fitting tribute- the world owed Dean more tears than it could ever pay.
They both soaked in the carnage of the powers that possessed Sam- the ruin, destruction, and death around them. Then a single form jutted out in the flatten, burned landscape. It was covered in what looked like ash, soot, and blood, but the rain has washed it clean enough to tell it was Dean's remains. Somehow, they had made it through the fires, but there was no comfort in that fact.
Bobby cradled Sam's head, trying to avert his gaze on Dean's lifeless body, but Sam pushed him away, slipping nauseatingly to his knees. Sam crawled forward, shrugging off Bobby's hand, stumbling even though he was already on his knees. Sam's hand stretched slowly towards Dean, until a finger brushed away some blood from Dean's face.
The form was eerily still and curled up on the still warm ground. All ideas of anything that resembled clothing had burned away, but neither man was shamed by the bare body. That thought was the furthest from their minds and hearts. All they could think of was why- Why did Dean have to die for the world to be saved. "He's gone. Dean's really left us… He's….he's dead." Bobby muttered
Bobby's words came as a background noise swarming around Sam's broken heart, and all he heard was "Dean and dead." He gagged at the sight of the tiny rivulets of blood rippling away from cleaning rain. Ripping his hand away as though stabbed, Sam retched, over and over, curling into a tiny ball beside his brother as he sobs.
Bobby's hand fell on his back, but it feels too much like comfort- too much like Dean when his big brother would make everything okay. Never again, he can't fix what's been broken. Pushing away, Sam buried his tears in his shaking hands, ignoring the emotional pain streaming through his body. Yet, he can't escape the shattering, unrelenting heartbreak. With a guttural scream, Sam threw himself over Dean's shoulder, clutching the still form to him as he rocked back and forth.
Bobby struggled to reason with the remaining Winchester, but Sam wouldn't listen. "We should bury…"
The only thing Sam understood was that Dean's dead and he will never see him again. They will never ride in the Impala. Never again listen to heavy metal. No more banter, road trips, hunts, pranks, bad takeout, crap hotel rooms, no one to love and be there unconditionally. He would never get the chance to say "I love you" or "thank you" to the person he loved the most, just like he never said those things to his father.
"I'll get a blanket….we can take him to where your Mom's buried. He'd like that."
"There's nothing left. His soul… he gave it all to me…" Sam sobbed openly, harder than he ever had. "God…no…. please…. "He wasn't listening to anything.
Bobby gave Sam few moments of privacy, finding a comforter in his old Mustang. When he returned, Sam was still rocking, unaware of anything but pain. When he attempted to physically move Sam, he wasn't strong enough to pull Sam away and only got a feral snarl from Sam when tried.
Bobby knew what awaited Sam. He can already see the years ahead because he had been there when he killed his wife. Had it not been for the Winchesters coming into his life, especially a blond haired, bright-eyed child, he would be exactly where Sam going: countless years of not eating, the lack of sleep, and the relentless nights of silent tear. Unlike Bobby, who still thought his wife's soul was free, waiting somewhere for him, Sam could never imagine that luxury. In this world or the next, Sam would always be on his own. "Come on. We… we need to get…"
Silent tears leaked, as heavy, red bags formed under Sam's eyes. "I need my brother," He answered in a tearstained whisper. All Sam can see was Dean's face, peaceful and resting- an empty shell with a forever lost soul. He almost fooled himself, thinking he saw a flicker of expression on Dean's face.
Bobby crouched down, covering Dean's lower half with the blanket, wishing it was to keep away the cold and not a way to hide the pain of losing him or a last gesture of honor. The move went unnoticed by Sam, who glued to the spot, letting blame gorge on him. Bobby, on the other hand, noticed something strange. The body was unmarred now, clean of cuts, bruises, and burns. And as the downpour continued, the only thing that changed was the blood and soot washing away. "Sam... Get back…"
"No… I can't…"
"His body! It was burned… and now!"
"I did it… I…."
"Get back, son. One of the demons must have hid….."
"No… I tried to…"
At first a facial muscle twitched, and then eyes peeked open, looking straight at Sam with panicked eyes. A second later, a hand pulled at Sam's shirt, trying desperately to hold on.
But Sam looked into Dean's eyes and wouldn't believe what Bobby was saying. His heart wouldn't let him. "It's him… him…. I did it… I really did…" Sam curled Dean up into his arms, embracing him closer, and rocked rocks back and forth.
"SAM! These demons!"
"It's him. He's in there." Amazement peeked at the corners of his mouth.
Without any more reasoning, the sight in front of Bobby incited a reaction as he pulled a bottle of holy water and the colt, cocking it and pointing it directly at the figure in Sam's arms "I can't believe you'd even try you demon bastard," Bobby growled. His strength and focus returned as the adrenaline and hate surged through his battered body. "It wasn't enough for you to kill him now you want to use him!"
"Bobby, NO!! It's him."
"Sammy." The voice was so soft and familiar.
Suddenly his eyes were full of tears and love. Sam let Dean slip back to a more comfortable position. A cry caught in his throat. "Dean….easy… I…"
"Can't be him! Can't be." Bobby tossed water on the body, bracing himself for the violent reaction, but none came. Dean's eye locked on his pseudo father and all in one instant Dean was saying thank you and help me. Bobby's arm shook in disbelief as the colt lowered, becoming loose in his grip. He took one last forlorn glance at the blonde haired man and the gun dropped from his hand. With one hesitant step, his tired body fell in a heap beside the brothers. The knowledge that Dean was alive slammed so forcefully he openly wept.
One look at Sam's face and the walls Dean has spent so much time building dropped. Sam sobbed as he jolted a deep breath from Dean with the tightest hug he had ever given. Dean rested a hand on Sam's shoulder, and then suddenly wrapped his arms around his baby brother, hugging him.
"I'm sorry… so sorry..." Dean muttered. "Sammy….I tried to tell you," Dean said softly, his hand clutching at the back of Sam's head. The words brought Dean's arms even tighter around Sam, as tight as he could manage.
"Dean," was wordless now with relief, but Dean nodded with understanding.
"It's ok. I'm here," Dean whispered, rubbing Sam's back, weakly and uncoordinated.
His big brother, one again, making everything seem okay. "You're here… really..."
"You saved me….saved..." Dean collapsed unconscious on Sam's shoulder. The energy still wiped out from battle. More words would have to be shared later. He would have to tell Sam that, ironically, the plans those demons made were destroyed by the hellfire they wanted Sam to use. Instead of bringing about the death of mankind, Sam had turned on them and in doing so, brought Dean back. He rose out of hell's ashes and destruction to reclaim the smallest part of him. For now, he was too tired to do anything but rest and breathe.
Shooting up, Sam looked around frantically, his breathing ragged and raw, but within a second his eyes froze on Dean, who was curled up on Sam's knee in the back of the Impala. He vaguely recalled getting Dean dressed and safe, but not drifting off to sleep himself. Yet, a brown leather jacket was wrapped around Dean's torso and the necklace hung where it had always belonged. Dean was really home.
"Sorry, I didn't want to wake you, but we had to stop for gas." Bobby said as he shut the driver's side door. Obviously, he had just returned from paying.
"I don't remember going to sleep."
"Both of you boys were wore out. You almost passed out on me when we got him to the car. Figured I'd use the chance to drive Dean's baby…he'd never let me otherwise." Bobby tried to take some pressure away from Sam. "I'm taking you back to my place to hole up for a while till you're ready to get back in the game"
"Where's your car?"
"Uh…you pretty much charred it."
"Uh... sorry…I'm…I'm….so sorry."
"Don't be! It was worth the trade off to have him back. Just don't look too close at the Impala's paint job. We better give her a new coat 'fore he gets a chance to see it…. Unless you want to be skinned…"
"He can kick my ass as much as he wants..."
"Well, I warned ya."
"Bobby? The amulet glowed…when Dean … What is it anyway?"
"Damned if I know. It was just a hunk of metal in a bunch of charms. The only thing I knew was it was given to family when they took a hard journey so a part of them could always be together. You and your Daddy were always at odds. I figured it couldn't hurt to mend a few fences."
"But, I gave it to Dean. Why didn't you tell Dad…bust me out..."
"I gave it to you to give out of love. Dean seemed to need it more than John ever did. Do you know how proud he was of that damn worthless crap!?. You would have thought you gave him the world. He deserved it cause it came from your heart. There was no way I would interfere with that. And anyway, it was junk."
"What if this isn't over? What if the demon blood is still in me? I could be dangerous to you all. What if there is something inside me I can't stop it from getting out?"
"You can't promise me that."
"No, but I can promise we will take care of you… take care of each other. No more stupid deals…"
"Promise me something better. That if I go to that place again-cause Dean will never give up-promise me you'll take me down."
"You're the only one that can. Dean will go to any extreme and this time I won't let him."
"I'll promise that you will never again be controlled by anything. How I choose to deal with it will be on my terms. And that is all the promise you'll get."
A slow moan sprang from the sleeping Dean. "Hey," Dean says softly, sitting up too, propping his back against the seat.
"Hey," Sam offered. "How ya feeling."
"Then go back to sleep you, halfwit."
"Good to see you too." He mumbled back at Bobby.
Sam grew more pensive. "I've been thinking…. There's still so much out there."
"Always dangerous." Bobby offered. "But we'll get them."
"Exactly. The demon wanted me to lead an army, so I am giving them what they want. My brother and I will wage war on them like no one has ever seen. And for every person we save, there is another warrior in this. Someone who knows about the things out there. For every evil deed, those damn things will build our army."
"Count me in!' Bobby bantered.
Dean stared humorously at his brother. "Hey Shakespeare?"
"What? Are you hurting? Do you need…"
"Hurt- yes… But you could have spared us the Patton lets go to war speech. Can't you just say: hey, want to help me kick some ass? I'll give you the big gun."
"I….you…we just went through hell and you… you…you're busting my chops."
"It's my job."
"Yeah, it is." Sam answered so sincerely Dean had to smile, but it quickly faded.
"Whoa, okay Tonto. The Lone Ranger there is about to fall back over. Think we can save the inspiration speeches for later? And the smartass comments?"
Dean bobbled, feeling alien in his own skin and he had a feeling that everything would be much too foreign at the moment. Rest seemed so much better than the waking world for now. Sam wasn't waiting, but guiding him back to a horizontal position. The jacket wrapped around him comforted and warmed him back to the deepest part of sleep before he even stretched out.
"Do you think he'll be okay?" Sam said as he noticed Dean's eyes shut.
"Yeah. I think he was raised tough as nails. Just needs to sleep for a month and a then a whole month in a beer cave." Bobby said a bit worried if things were actually going to be okay, but careful not to show it to Sam. "Hmpphhff..." Bobby laughed.
"Yeah, the idea of being surrounding by a walk-in fridge of beer will be too much for Dean. He might need two mon…"
"No… not that. I just… You boys caught the dark side in a catch 22. Dean went to hell and fulfilled his deal…and now they have no claim on either of you. He gave them a bit more than they bargained for and here he is alive and well. They wanted you to lead an army and now you are. Guess someone should have warned the demons to be careful what they wish for."
"And they are definitely going to get it." Sam said, pulling Dean closer, wrapping the jacket tighter. "And they'll be sorry for ever messing with my family."
Author's note: Thanks for reading. As always I love the feedback (the good and the bad) and appreciate the comments. (Even if I don't get a moment to respond to all of them) Anyway, off to write something else now….More updates and stories soon!