Author's Note: This, as far as I know, is the final chapter. This has also been my favorite chapter to write, for reasons you might come to understand as you read on. It's a very different writing style than my usual, I think, but it came out exactly how I wanted it to - or, considering I didn't really have much of an idea, even better. Writing Dean's drunk stream-of-consciousness is very fun, and writing inebriated-and-not-thinking-about-Sam-yeah-right Dean is even more fun. I suggest you all try it.
Warning: Contains drunk!Dean and slight sibling violence. It's all pretty PG, though, other than the language that is. Oh, and you might want to have tissues handy, just in case.
"Who do you have on him?" Sam had asked, meaning please tell me you have someone like Ash or we don't have a chance.
"I have a couple hunters keeping an eye out," Bobby said, and before Sam could yell that's not enough he continued, "and there's a guy I know who can hack into satellite feed and find anything I ask him to… but he needs something a little more specific than the entire continental United States."
Sam tried to think. If he was Dean, and he had one day (more like seven hours, fifteen minutes and counting) to live, where would he go?
The logical answer was somewhere remote, as far away from Sam as he could manage. Dean being Dean, he'd probably want to have the possibility of running across Sam as infinitesimal as possible. Dean being Dean, he'd probably also want to go out fighting, so that meant he'd be hunting something, except Bobby had already tried that route and boy, we have enough of a headache on our hands without chasing ghosts on top of it.
That was all making the assumption, though, that the Dean of a year ago was the same Dean who'd rung his apartment, the same brother who'd spent an entire year facing death alone without Sam – the same brother who'd slunk off the radar like a lone wolf into the woods, resigned to die by himself.
Except, maybe he wasn't. With the way he never faltered, always got back up with a cocky grin and a bad joke, Sam had always secretly thought Dean might as well be Superman, he was just that unflappable.
But maybe, just maybe, Dean was more human than he'd realized. A year was a long time, after all. This Dean, the one who had let himself contact his brother, however indirectly, however late in the game… That Dean would give himself a break, wouldn't he? Allow himself a few more weaknesses?
It was all he had. "Have him try California."
"California?" There was obvious surprise in the older man's voice. "You really think Dean would…" Bobby trailed off, then repeated incredulously, "California?"
"Just do it," Sam said shortly, and hung up the phone.
Come on, Dean, he pleaded in his head, just give me this.
This. Just this.
That's all I ask.
There was something about twilight that seemed to almost stretch time, Dean reflected, then made a face as he ran the hokey thought again through his head. Jeeze, if he hadn't known for a fact that he wasn't a chick and actually had the tolerance of a healthy red-blooded male, he might have suspected the Jack Daniels from earlier had got to him more than he'd thought.
Dean shook his head, making the beach in front of him blur sideways like some kind of light show. He was so beyond the angsty-emo-teenage crap by now, he asserted to himself, taking another long, satisfying swallow from his beer.
That sort of thing had always been Sammy's specialty, anyhow.
He chortled a little at that thought, for some reason finding it funny – all right, maybe he was a little more buzzed than he'd realized – and then like he'd been doing for the past day (eight months, really), took a swig and promptly flooded the thought out of his head. This late in the game, Dean had gotten pretty good at detecting dangerous thoughts and almost as good at wiping them out before they meta– metasta – uh, got any worse, and if there was anything to learn from anything anywhere anytime, it was that any thought related to his brother was pretty much a definite killjoy.
Which made a lot of sense, really, since his brother wasn't much fun to be around in person, either.
The beer finished itself ahead of schedule (only five hours, twenty five minutes and thirty seconds to go), and after a moment of staring down the neck hopefully, searching for just a drop or two – come on, come on – Dean groaned and threw the bottle to the side of the porch, where it made a sad little clinking sound as it butted heads with some of its bunkmates. His hand dunked down to where he had another six-pack lying in wait, and he absently ripped the plastic wrap and twisted open another bottle.
Dean didn't actually remember at the moment how he got to this ocean-side cabin, but he thought it might have had something to do with a favor and a cursed wedding ring or bouquet or something like that. It didn't really matter to him now, though, since the end result was that he wasn't paying for it and no one was bugging him, which was all he really cared about. Plus the view wasn't too bad, either – clean sand, clear skies, the whole surf and turf. His jeans were a little wet and itchy still from going in earlier, because maybe Dean didn't do shorts but he wasn't fool enough to miss out on an opportunity when he saw one. Winchesters never spent much time at the beach, and this was a pretty good time to rectify that bitch, Dean had thought.
He did feel a little bad, though, about the ever-growing mound of empty bottles in the corner - not enough to stop adding to it, mind you, but he sent a little mental apology out into the world to find whoever the fuck owned this place, and hoped that that was the worst they would ever find here, just empty bottles and cans and a cheap razor and not, say, a corpse.
How did that work, anyway? he wondered, tipsy enough that the thought was little more than just detached curiosity and not, like, depressing. Dean knew hell hounds had something to do with the whole going-to-hell process, but was otherwise pretty skimpy on the details. For all he knew, hell hounds were just hell's harmless escort service, sort of like guide dogs for the blind, just replace the blind with souls of unlucky bastards.
Yeah, and there'll be sunshine and unicorns and lollipops for everyone.
He sniggered. It was a heck of a lot more likely that hell hounds just ate their victims whole, like maybe the netherworld was just in the pit of their stomachs, or as if they were hell's version of a Star Trek matter transporter.
Damn, that'd be something to see, he thought idly as he leaned back in his chair and stared down the ocean, downing another bottle without even noticing.
Crap, not again. He glared at the empty bottle for a bit (no, it's your fault), then tossed it aside in favor of a shiny new one.
In his defense, drinking the time away hadn't exactly been on Dean's list of things to do. He'd only started drinking after waiting around for a bit and realizing that rather than going for the accurate I-sold-my-soul-at-seven-o'-fucking-clock-in-the-morning, hell's bitches were going for the whole dramatic death-at-midnight shebang. He figured it was as much of a reprieve as he was ever going to get, so he'd done the natural thing and driven to the local Kwik-E-Mart to get the means to properly celebrate his seventeen extra hours. And buy some liquid courage to call Sam.
Turns out, though, that once you started drinking it got pretty damn hard to stop. Especially when all (shut up) he wanted or needed was right there – a shitload of beer and his baby, parked right there on the sandy driveway, a little too conspicuous for his liking but hey, not like anyone was around to recognize it. And of course, a fucking stellar view of the ocean wasn't bad, either.
He stared into the setting sun – the thing about dying was that you didn't really sweat the details, like the possibility of maybe someday going blind –and the pretty way the yellows and reds hit the ocean in shimmering, kind of spidery patterns. He didn't bother to think about the world out there beyond it, China and Nepal and Timbuktu and France and other places he'd never been and never would, because Dean had never really wondered about those places even before the deal, and he would never really consider going anywhere the Impala couldn't follow.
Dean thought, Dean drank, Dean watched, and eventually the sun sneaked under the water without so much as a by-your-leave, and Dean rolled his eyes but didn't mind too much because it had been nice, as far as sunsets go, and who the hell was he to complain about anything leaving, anyway.
Somewhere in Dean's congealing thoughts popped the notion that enough was enough, there was something he should be doing and he was being a lazy asshole. He told it sluggishly to take a hike, but it stubbornly shook its floppy head and nagged at him until he remembered that fuck, he still had things to do, still had to go give Bobby the Impala, or at least drop it off somewhere on the way so the old man didn't have to go too far to fetch it because he owed the old bastard that much, at least.
However, that, the voice reminded him with a familiar uppity smugness (that Dean didn't like or appreciate whatsoever), involved sobriety.
For the first time since lunch (good ol' SpaghettiO's), Dean's hand set down on the wooden floor a bottle that wasn't depressingly empty. Instead, Dean stood up from the easy chair, stole a look at his watch, swore aloud colorfully and nastily, then stumbled through the back door back into the cabin.
A bed beckoned to him temptingly from across the bathroom, but he ignored it and instead rummaged the duffle bag on it for a somewhat-clean set of clothes, then headed off into the shower.
He took his sweet time, letting the water wash away his headache – that's the last thing he needed, really, to go to hell with a hangover – although he still didn't take as long as some people might (just saying, he told the annoyed voice in his head). There was still a clean towel or two left on the rack after a week of long showers, and Dean quickly dried off and put on fresh clothes, feeling almost disappointingly clearheaded and sober – except that was a good thing, right.
For a little bit after, he stared into the mirror (this, this is what you're gonna become) and bade farewell to the handsome (if admittedly haggard) son of a gun looking back at him. Then with a final mournful sigh for his lost inebriation, Dean Winchester put on his socks, pulled on his boots, and opened the bathroom door.
He ignored the Sam sitting on his bed – okay, not that sober after all – and went through his duffle bag searching for his cell phone. It had somehow found its way inside a dirty sock over the past months, but Dean tried not to think about that and fished it out anyway. When Dean turned it on (hello, Nokia) it seemed to be running on full battery, which was a damn lucky break because Dean did not plan to sit around and wait for the damn thing to charge for a couple more hours he didn't have.
Not when he had places to be, people to avoid. You know, the usual.
Thirty-one missed calls, the display read, and Dean's stomach did a funny little twist as he stared down at it. He deleted each and every one, of course – it didn't matter how many were from Bobby and how many from whoever else had his number – but as always, he couldn't help lingering a little on each entry in his phonebook, almost tempted but on second thought, really not.
He flipped closed the cell phone and shoved it in his pocket. Three hours was plenty of time to call Bobby with directions, he figured, zipping the bag shut and hefting it unto his shoulder.
Dean froze, thoughts tripping. His heart might have skipped a beat, but then he wasn't really paying attention.
He held still, not enough to tell if there really was someone on his bed or if he was only imagining it – he'd always had an active imagination, but just in case – and somehow pulled together a flimsy grin. "Yeah, thought I'd take my girl out for a last spin or two," he said to the room, voice a little hoarse but pretty good, all considering.
He waited breathlessly, almost disappointed when there was no reply, but he just let out a sigh – the things impending doom did to a man, seriously – and started for the door.
He didn't turn around. There was only so much a guy could take.
Dean froze again when he heard footsteps, deliberate ones, ones that sounded uncannily like some giant trying to pace itself, nearing and overtaking him. Hands larger than his grabbed his shoulders and spun him around like a mannequin, brought him face to face with long hair and a long nose and hazel eyes and it was, it was –
"Sam," he said in wonder, really meaning Sammy and you're real and what the hell are you doing here? "What the hell are -"
Dean's world turned white for a couple of seconds, and he didn't realize what was going on until he was suddenly blinking up at his brother and thinking whoa, I knew he was tall but not that tall and ouch and hey wait, he was on the floor.
Dean raised a hand to rub at his left cheek, trying to come to grips with the fact that Sammy had somehow found him and apparently also had a heck of a right hook. He squinted up, a little stunned (and a little irritated, honestly, because okay, it's not like he didn't deserve that, but did it really have to hurt this much?) to find a similar bzuh? look on his little brother.
"I might be a little drunk," he started to explain, embarrassed, but somewhere in the middle his brother dropped to his knees, looking like his world was falling apart, and Dean braced himself for another punch but instead found himself with an armful of Sammy.
"You jerk, you jerk," Sam mumbled fiercely over and over into Dean's leather jacket, getting it damp, and Dean leaned back on the wall with a soft sigh and closed his arms around his little brother.
"I know," he replied, just once because even now, an apology was out of the question, and then closed his eyes as he resigned himself for a lengthy wait, because this might be totally hokey, but it was what Sam needed, and Dean had never been able to refuse Sam anything, not when it really mattered.
...And if he held on just as hard as Sam, well, no one but Sam would ever know, and besides, Dean might have been a little drunk.
"I know it's too late to get you out of this deal," Sammy whispered finally, hands fisting at his sides as they stood there, waiting. "But I will get you out of there, Dean. I swear it. I will get you out."
"I believe you," Dean whispered back, because he did, he always did when it came to Sammy.
And right then might as well have been twilight, because at that moment, waiting with his brother, time seemed to be stretching out infinitely, and midnight just might never come.
A/N: everyone gets a lollipop. You guys for making it this far, Sam and Dean get a lollipop for putting up with my angsty whims, and I get a lollipop for getting those two to hug - I swear I never planned it, but then it just happened and I swear, it's almost like they wanted to. What do you guys think, was it believable? I tried really hard for it...
Til next time,
PS:I also get a lollipop for using bzuh as an adjective. That takes talent, people.