A/N: Ok, this was for a friend's birthday...she wanted me to write about how the guys dealt with Dean's last birthday before the deal came due and this is what I came up with. I started this the day before the season three finale and finished it the day AFTER the season 3 finale so there are some finale spoilers but it's AU. Please Read and Review, but only give me constructive criticism, there's no need to flame. If you don't like, don't review.
"The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity." Seneca
It's snowing. I take another swig of my beer as I watch the flakes fall and gather around the window sill. I watch the snow fall like a child watching the snowfall for the first time, like this is something uncommon in town. But it's not. It's January in South Dakota, so it's not like this is some random freak storm. But still, I stare at it. The gently falling flakes take my mind off of thoughts of what the day brings. I take another drink. It's January 24th, Dean's birthday. It's my brother's 30th birthday and here I sit, alone with nothing but a lukewarm beer and my thoughts of yesterday to keep me company. The big 3-0. I wonder what Dean would say about that. I can hear his voice in my head as I chuckle to myself, "I'm like a fine wine, Sammy. The older I get the better I get and the more the cougars want me." He would say that with a mischievous smile and probably punched me in the shoulder.
The snow's starting to cover the window and hide my view of the empty parking lot. Another town, another cheap motel, another day of wondering what could have been. I finish off my beer and crack open the last of the six pack by my side. Drinking alone is never anything but depressing but at the moment, for me, it can't be helped. At the moment I'm alone with my thoughts and with today being Dean's birthday my thoughts are only of him.
A year ago today we were in an entirely different town, entirely different setting. Instead of snow and bitter cold it was sun and blistering heat. The heat was dry and almost unbearable but, as ridiculous as it was, it made me think of what was coming for Dean. There was only a spattering of months left until the hounds came for him and yet Dean wanted to celebrate his birthday like they had every year: just the two of them and a six-pack. I take another drink, beer bitter on my tongue as I remember the day.
Dean slaps the six-pack of his favorite beer on the wobbly table in their room. Smiling, he turns toward the bathroom.
"C'mon, Sammy, get a move on. You've been in there for like half an hour! You're worse than a girl, sometimes."
In the bathroom Sam leans over the sink, yet again splashing water on his face. He looks at himself in the mirror. He looks tired, worn. His eyes are red, slightly puffy, and he hopes the water will help the color return to normal so that Dean doesn't realize what he's been doing in the bathroom since he left to get beer. Sam had told Dean to go without him because he could feel his chest tightening. He knew the feeling. He'd only felt like this a few times in his life. The last time being when he'd found their dad on the floor of that hospital room. It is the feeling you get when you know the worst has happened and you're going to lose someone you care about more than yourself and there's nothing that you can do to stop it from happening.
They still had months to go before the deal came due, but Sam was feeling the stress of the situation. A tiny nagging voice in the back of his head kept telling him this was his fault. Dean was going to hell because of him. He should have been faster, stronger, and deadlier and stopped Jake before the bastard could stab him in the back. He really didn't know the feelings Dean had had in those few days he'd been gone but he was beginning to understand it. It was an entirely different level of grief than he'd experienced with Jess and his Dad and he was finding it a little hard to celebrate his brother's birthday knowing that he wouldn't be there next year to celebrate his 30th.
Sam splashes himself one final time before deciding the red from his eyes was as gone as it was going to be. Not to mention he could hear Dean getting antsy. He was waiting on him to order the pizza and when it came to food, Dean didn't like to waste time. Sam pats the dingy towel over his face before throwing up the façade he'd so successfully used on Christmas when he'd been faced with the same chest clinching feelings, only this time he didn't have the eggnog that was more whiskey than eggnog.
"Sam! Seriously, dude, I'm starving and that pizza with the works is calling my name," he heard Dean call from the other side of the door.
Sam puts up his forced smile and opens the door. Dean's sitting on the small loveseat in the "living room" of their cramped motel room. The light from the TV flickers across his face as he turns from channel to channel. He finally looks up and smiles, his genuine compared to Sam's imitation smile.
"Finally! I'd thought you'd drowned yourself in your hair gel there, Sammy."
Sam sighs and grabs a beer for himself.
"Nope," he says before taking a swig, his eyes betraying him and his ploy.
Dean hesitates for a second, reading Sam like he's always been able to do. To Dean, Sam is merely an open book, his favorite and one he's read over and over again throughout the years, slowly watching him go from new and shiny to aged, his pages all tattered from the hardships they'd faced over the past three years together. Dean had noticed that since Sam's Lazarus move, his emotions have been especially easy to read because he only really had two: determination and grief. And right now, it was the latter.
"If you say so, Sam. Ok, it's time for Mr.-" Dean pauses, looking at the credit card in his hand, "Salinger to get us some grub." Sam nods as Dean makes the call. He takes another swig of his beer and sits in the equally small and ratty chair that accompanies the loveseat. Dean hangs up and comes back to sit on the loveseat, staying silent. It's in the silence that Sam knows his cover is blown.
"So, um, if I've not already said it, happy birthday, bro," Sam sputters out.
Dean looks over at him and smiles, "Thanks, Sammy."
And that's all that's said between them until after they've eaten their own weight in deep dish pizza. Dean finishes off his beer and looks over to Sam who is rolling his empty bottle between his hands.
"Sam, I want to thank you-" Dean starts but Sam quickly interrupts, looking over at him, eyes wide.
His chest is tightening again and it's this conversation he's been dreading the entire night. He knew Dean had seen through his act but he'd hoped he'd stay away from talk like this.
"No, Sam I gotta say this. I know you really don't want to be celebrating like this tonight, much like you didn't want to over Christmas. So I want to thank you. This is exactly what I would have wanted for a last-"
"Dean just stop, ok? Don't talk to me like this is the last birthday."
"But Sammy, we both know that the chances of me getting out of this deal are little to none."
Sam turns to Dean, grief momentarily replaced by determination in his eyes, "Dean, even if there's only the smallest of chances, there is still a chance. I'm not giving up on you, and I damn well, wish you would have more faith in yourself."
"Sam, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that there's a chance this is my last one and I just thought you should know that this is exactly how I wanted to spend it. With a six pack, pizza, and you….although, I kinda expected a stripper or something Sammy. I mean a man has needs…and sometimes those needs just can't be filled with booze, pizza, and quality brother time."
The tightening in Sam's chest lets up a little as he allows himself to smile. As he smiles, Dean smiles bigger, satisfied with himself for improving his brother's mood. He cracks open another beer, handing the last one to Sam as he looks around as though searching for something.
"C'mon, Sammy. I know this could be the last but that doesn't mean you had to slack on the birthday gift," Dean says jokingly.
Sam smiles to himself. Silently he stands and heads to his backpack that's beside his bed. He searches through it for a moment before pulling out a thin package wrapped in newspaper, similar to their Christmas festivities. He turns back toward Dean, hesitating for a minute, basking in the glow of his brother's smile. It was a genuine smile, not one of the more recent "Hey I'm not scared of my fate" ones. Sam walks over to Dean, taking his seat once more at his side before handing over the package.
"It's not much, but I think -- I hope -- you'll like it," Sam says slightly nervous.
"Ah, Sammy, you shouldn't have," Dean says with an almost snarky tone to his voice as he takes it.
Sam shakes his head and grabs the beer Dean had given him moments before and pops it open, taking a drink as he watches Dean unwrap his gift. Dean slowly removes the paper to see that for all the paper, the only thing that is there is a single picture; its corners yellowed with age. The photo was of him and Dean when they were children. Dean couldn't have been anymore than 14 and Sam any more than 10 years old. It had been taken the summer their dad had left them with Pastor Jim, who at the time had been preaching in a small lakeside town, the congregation having housed him by the lake. Their dad had left them there really for reasons unknown but it had been one of the best summers of their life. For an entire summer they had been normal.
They'd spent the summer, not under the scrutinizing eye of their father, who was quickly molding Dean into a soldier, while slowly realizing he'd have to do the same for Sam, but under the rays of the hot summer sun. In the picture Dean, who was at the time still taller than Sam, stood behind him and had his arms slug around Sam, almost picking him up in a bear hug, both of them smiling like idiots. That summer Dean was under the spell of his ever raging hormones, realizing his good looks and charm could get him what he wanted and Sam had been slowly beginning to start the process of growing into his gangly body. It was the summer of first kisses and late night adventures; it was the summer Sam realized just how much he meant to his brother and vice versa. It was the summer he'd realized what it meant to be a brother.
Dean eyes the picture for a moment before looking up at Sam, eyes wide.
"It was in one of dad's storage buildings. I couldn't believe he kept it, but when I took it I knew I had to keep it for a reason. There, uh, there's something on the back."
Sam continues as Dean slowly flips the picture, "I know you always say you don't like chick-flick moments but this needed to be said."
Dean smiles, his voice thick as he read the back, "You've always been my hero but sometimes even the most heroic need to be saved."
Dean looks up at Sam, his eyes glassy, his smile growing, "Sammy, I don't know what to say."
Sam smiles not wanting the emotions to get too thick for fear of losing composure himself, "There's nothing to say, Dean. Just know I mean what I say." He takes another drink from his beer before adding, "And you say I'm a girl."
Dean throws the wad of wrapping paper at Sam's head.
"Jerk. Now, how about we see if the game's on?"
Sam turns his head toward the TV but can still see Dean wipe at his eyes before grabbing the remote and finding the first football game on.
Dean had called that the best birthday he ever had. I chalked it up to him knowing it was his last. I never really knew what he did with that picture after that day, but it wasn't like I had much time to ask. After his birthday and then the trouble with Bela, I'd thrown myself headstrong into saving him.
I was so damn desperate to save him, to keep my word to him. Months turned into weeks and then days until it was mere hours until his deal was due. Before she was taken as a result of her own deal Bela had managed to give us the entail we'd been hoping for all those months; who held Dean's deal. With less than 30 hours left we made our plan, which was truly on a wing and a prayer since we no longer had the colt.
With the help of Bobby and Ruby and her demon slaying knife, Dean and I fought Lilith. It was in that fight that we lost Ruby to her own knife and in the end midnight came and went and the battle ended and the damages we done. I can still hear Dean's screams in my head most nights. Of all my regrets about what happened my biggest was thinking we could really get out of it all right. That Dean and I could win the battle without fail. That was the night that my brother died.
There's a knock at the door and I go to answer it, as I turn the knob I smile to myself. One year ago my brother and I celebrated what we thought would be his last birthday. Six months later we fought in the fiercest battle of our lives and that was that night my brother died…well, the night he almost died.
"Dammit, Sammy, open the door, I'm freezing my ass off out here!"
I open the door to find Dean with another six-pack in one hand and a pizza in the other. That night six months ago with the sight of gore and blood I thought I was losing my brother and in that moment did exactly what Ruby had wanted of me. I tapped into powers I didn't know I had and in a matter of moments it was over with the sounds of Lilith's pained screams blending in with Dean's.
Dean walks into the room, an obvious limp in his step.
"One tiny blizzard and the pizza joint says 'screw delivery, pick-up only'? Well, this pizza better be orgasmic because I nearly froze my balls off out there," he grumbles to himself.
I may have broken my brother's deal and saved his life, but as much as it was a last minute save, damages were still caused. The hell hounds had made puppy chow of Dean's left leg before I could send them where I had sent their master. Dean had survived but would have to live with a permanent limp and the scars of that night but in the end he still had his soul. Even I still had ramifications from that night. I still haven't figured out the key to these powers I have and with Ruby gone I may have lost my only chance to truly figure them out. I know they're there, I can feel them if I really concentrate but for now, they'll just remain a dull buzzing in my head because I don't know what would happen if I fully awoke them.
Dean takes off his coat and throws it over the back the chair I had been sitting in moments before. I notice something fall from the coat to the floor as Dean makes his way to the love seat in front of the TV. I walk over to the table, bend over and grab whatever it was that fell. To my own surprise it's the picture from a year ago, a little worse for wear but still whole. The mystery of its whereabouts having been solved I go to place it on the table when I notice that there is another handwriting added to my own on the back. Curious I turn the picture completely over and read. It is Dean's slanted handwriting that's taken space under my own sloppy script.
Once more the tightening in my chest returns but this time it's not for fear of losing my brother, or fear that I will fail. I look at Dean, he's gorging himself on the pizza but there's a smile on his face that isn't the one reserved for food. This smile is a knowing one. I turn back to the picture and read the writing once more.
"Sometimes it's the heart of a hero that saves him. Thanks for being my heart, little brother."
I quickly brush a tear from my eye before I tuck the photo back into my brother's leather jacket. I turn around and take my place next to Dean as he hands me a beer. No, our life isn't easy or safe or, hell, even remotely normal. But at the end of the day, we're brothers, family, and that's all I really need to get by. I smile and look at my brother.
"Happy birthday, Dean."