A/N: This was inspired by two things. One was the song Carry On My Wayward Son, which was in the opening scenes of the season finale, and which really struck a chord. Two was my complete anguish over Dean going to hell! And thus, we have Last Breath. Drop me a review, if you'd like. I'd be greatly appreciative. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: If my last name was Kripke then Dean wouldn't have gone to Hell. And I'd be rich. But since none of these things are true...

Last Breath

Normal humans fear death because they have no idea what happens after the heart stops ticking, after the lungs stop inflating. Normal humans fear death because they do not know what lies beyond the grave. Normal humans fear what they do not understand, and what no normal human can understand is death.

Sam and Dean Winchester understand death. It is part of them, dwelling under their fingernails, clinging to their hair, an ever present shadow marking their eyes, their cheeks, dogging their footsteps. They understand death. They deal in it, are bound to it.

They understand what happens when something goes wrong with the natural order of things. They know what becomes of those who do not die as they should, those who are drawn back from death, and of those who meddle in death. The creatures they hunt are Death creatures, all of them.

But fear of death is part of human nature, inescapable and almighty.

The boys know there is a hell. Whether or not there is a heaven escapes them. Sam believes there is, believes in God, in angels, in the forces of good. Dean doesn't know what to believe.

Sam was dead once. He doesn't remember it, doesn't remember anything after the sharp pain and the darkness, doesn't even know if there is anything to remember.

Dean sold his soul to save his brother. It is a one-way ticket to hell, a sure-fire way to the flames of eternal torment.

Dean is afraid to go to hell.

Sam is afraid to die and never see his brother again.

As far as they see it, Death is their separation. It will undoubtedly claim one before the other, leaving the survivor to linger on in darkness and despair. Dean will go to hell; Sam to wherever he goes. Heaven, hell, purgatory. They are all equal torment if he is without Dean.

Normal humans fear death because they do not understand it.

The Winchesters fear death because they understand too well that after death they will never see each other again.

They don't talk about it unless they absolutely have to. The topic is taboo, no conversations of what awaits them in the afterlife, no talk of what might happen after death. No talk of Dean's date with the devil, unless they are talking about ways to save him.

But sometimes, in the middle of the night, they both lie awake, aware that the other is staring just as blankly up at the white ceiling above their head, having conversations in the silence. No words are spoken, just drawn from the darkness, from the pattern of breathing. There they dwell on death, on the afterlife.

In those dark, silent moments, they make silent promises that cannot be kept. Promises that when that inevitable death comes along they will breathe their last breath together then go down in a burst of gun fire, in a desperate attempt to maintain existence.

Death comes to all mortal creatures. Sometimes after a long life, sometimes in a rain of bullets and claws and roaring darkness. Death cares not for promises made in silent darkness. It consumes and consumes, unstoppable, powerful. Sam and Dean have faced unbeatable odds and won, but there is no winning against death.

The only thing they can do is cling to life with all of their strength. Their job isn't done yet, and they will not be willingly parted, not by anything.

Death will have to rip them away from each other, because they will fight until their very last breath.