ABOVE AND BELOW
By: Karen B.
Summary: Short story…Set after the episode -- No Rest For The Wicked. Sam buries his brother.
Disclaimer: Non profit dreaming. Written for expression/hobby only.
Thank you dear reader for your time and care.
Sunshine, even in rain,
It was six in the morning, the wind blew and the rain fell. I stood in the middle of a forest, shivering under three layers of sopping wet clothes. Bobby stood next to me. I wanted to do this alone, but he insisted on coming and I really did need his help. The weight -- too much for me to carry alone. It took some effort to maneuver among the big trees, doubling back to hide our trail and stopping a few times to allow Bobby to catch his breath.
At least Bobby didn't argue with me anymore. He hadn't agreed with how I chose to handle things. I stiffened, gritting my teeth and recalling his not to distant words.
'He wouldn't have wanted this,' Bobby argued. 'Sam, I know this is hard to hear but Dean's not coming back.'
'Don't you say that!' My palms were sweating and I felt hot all over.
'Sam, you have to face fact. I know you don't want to give him up, but we have to do the right thing here.' Bobby lay a hand to my shoulder. 'We have to burn --"
'No!' I curled a fist and lunged at Bobby, swinging like a possessed axe begging to chop down a tree.
Bobby sidestepped me easily and my left shoe slipped on the gravel, but I regained my footing. A look I can't describe passed between Bobby and I. Realizing what I'd almost done to a man who was like a father to me, I pulled myself back.
'Bobby.' I was trembling all over with anger and grief. 'He-he's my brother. I'll make the necessary arrangements,' I said, trying to keep my voice low and rage free. 'I can't give up -- not now -- not ever.'
"Whatever you want, kid." Bobby didn't say another word, just took a few steps away letting all the air pressure out of his ritual was ritual speech.
I was surprised when Bobby let the issue drop so quickly. My guess was, he didn't have the heart to argue anymore. He knows I know and I know he knows, there was no way I was going to build that fire.
A roll of thunder brought me back to the present. Bobby and I were uncomfortably silent for quit sometime, just listening to one another breathe heavily. The splatter of rain hitting the freshly dug up ground grated on my nerves. The sound was too close to the sound of Dean's blood splattering the floor and the walls as hell hounds took him down. The wind gusted harder pushing against my chest, like that bitch's death ray had pushed me against the wall.
I'd held Dean a long time after Lilith had made her exit. Staring into green eyes that didn't look at me, but through me. I remember feeling the jolt of my own heart when I felt for his pulse. Knowing even before I touched him, my brother's heart had long stopped beating. I'd failed him. I'd told Dean I didn't care what it took. I was going to get him out of this. I wasn't going to let him go to hell but in the end-- letting him go was all I could do.
The stench of dirt and wet leaves made me feel sick, like I might feint. Bobby's shadow at my back somehow seemed to keep me on my feet.
I glanced upward through the tall trees. Every pinging drop of rain striking me felt like bits of glass digging into my soul. I hunched my shoulders against the pain, wiping the blur of raindrops and tears from my eyes.
The boughs of the pines swayed, the wind pulling at their roots, but the tall trees didn't budge. I'd chosen this spot because it felt safe. Far enough away from human activity, but still close enough that a weakened man could hike out -- find his way back to civilization without too much effort.
I stared down at the mound of muddy dirt. His body was there, down below. In the dark. Cold and alone. Six feet of dirt and a nailed down pine lid separated me from my brother. I was here -- above. Where there should have been light, but I was trapped within the cold shadows of the trees -- of my own guilt and pain. Raindrops rolled easily down the collar of my shirt and I shivered. A clear-blue thought raced through my brain. It was more than dirt and wood that seperated me from him. Dean's body was still here… but his soul was in hell.
"Huh?" I shook off my stupor.
"I'll meet you back at the truck," Bobby said, an odd expression on his face.
"Yeah. Okay, Bobby."
Bobby swallowed, and without another word he shouldered the heavy pack we'd hauled up the mountain side disappearing into the thickness of the trees. A shower of large raindrops continued to hit my head, plastering my hair over my eyes. I didn't even try to shield myself from the heavy rain.
"Oh, God," I whispered, crouching down. "Sorry." For a moment I closed my eyes "I'm sorry." I opened my eyes, staring at the unmarked grave. "Dean." I paused, stumbling over my own tongue. "One whole year and I didn't tell you all that I meant to tell you. All I wanted to tell you. I let it get lost in the wreck that is our lives." I shook my head, tears and rain flying in all directions. "I'm an idiot, Dean. Guess you get used to having somebody around -- so much so you take them for granted. Forget to tell them how much they mean to you." I shrugged. "I know it's too little too late, but I need to tell you, man…you're the best brother any guy could ever…Dean," I choked, biting into my lower lip hard enough that it bled. "You were my mother when I never had one. My father when ours was to preoccupied with his own obsessions. You walked through open doors first, checked the closets for monsters, and gave me courage I never thought I had." In a gesture of frustration, I waved a hand in the air. "Damn it, Dean! You never cared about the danger this world held for you, or any other world for that matter. Your only worry -- keeping me safe. And you did," I lowered my voice. "Dean. All your life -- that's what you did. And I...and I can't...I don't..." I paused, feeling sick, tears and rain running down my cheek. "Did I ever tell you? I don't remember ever telling you." My stomach churned. "I love you. Dean. I love you."
I looked to my muddied hands and they trembled fiercely, feeling a sickening glug tug at my stomach. I should have been able to feel Dean near, but I couldn't feel anything. Only a numb, uneasy, helpless, hopeless sadness -- so way down deep inside I wanted to die myself. Dean deserved so much more. He didn't belong in hell -- I did. How could I leave him here? In the forest. In the dark. In the rain. Cold and all alone.
I was breathing heavy, my nostrils flared and my heart banged in my chest. I reached down and grabbed a handful of soggy dirt and squeezed my fist in a death grip, until the mud seeped through my fingers -- the way Dean's life had. I couldn't stay here forever. I had to go -- had work to do. Bobby had said it was best not to mark the grave, but that too felt so wrong -- everything was so wrong, upside down and backward.
I choked on a sob. Notwithstanding my utter grief, I sucked in a breath.
"I won't leave you like this, big brother."
I was exhausted, eyes swollen, clothes beyond dirty and wet, but I forced myself up. With great urgency, I searched the area for something I could use.
I held my breath, moving back to the mound of fresh dirt. There was no name engraved upon a fancy marble headstone. No birth date. No date of death. No beloved words to remember him by. No photograph held behind glass, like Jess had. Only a crude homemade cross. Fashioned by a grief-stricken brother's hands. Made simply out of two logs and secured together by a few strands of rough-bark twisted vine.
I raised the cross over my head, a symbol of loss, of respect, of loyalty. With the last of my strength, I drove the stake into the ground at the head of Dean's grave.
"I'll never stop." I straightened. "This will never be over. If it takes the rest of my life, Dean. I'll get you back. I'll…" I gasped, barely having any strength left. Weakly digging into my jacket pocket, I pulled out Dean's necklace. "So help me…"
I reached to hang the chain around the cross. The wind niggled in my ear, seemingly to whisper again.
Standing alone, the rain falling down, I pulled my hand away, placing the necklace around my neck instead.
"And if I can't…Dean…if I can't bring you back above…I'll meet you below trying.