Sam sighed. Drew a hand through his hair, resting it on his neck as he bowed his head.
"It's gone," he said, quietly. The darkness that surrounded them both seemed to suck in his words. He looked over at Dean, sitting on a work bench, his legs swinging like a child's.
"Hmm. Maybe." Dean replied. Sam glanced around the warehouse again. Poltergeists were the pits. He hated them. The worst of things to hunt. No faces to read. No body language to gauge. No sound. Just sudden, random violence that destroyed lives. And work places. Two hard working men had already died in this one- horse -town warehouse and they'd spent the last 5 hours finding it and destroying it. Or not, as Dean appeared to suspect. Sam shifted his weight on the hard metal stairs he was sitting on. As another thirty minutes passed, he imagined the metal pattern being etched onto his backside.
"OK. So, it's a no show for Mrs Polty." Dean murmered.
"You think they're married now?" Sam snorted.
"Who knows. I just think there might be two of 'em. That's all." Dean stated flatly. No return of humour. No spark. Sam started to get up.
"We can always come back. It's not like it's – "
Suddenly Sam rocketed backwards, his entire frame buckling inwards with the force of the strike, his arms thrusting forward before he rammed back onto the stairs. Dean flinched at the sound. And for an instant he thought he could see it...something shining in the gloom. He jumped off the workbench, crouching his way towards Sam and the stairs. He pushed his hands forward, feeling for Sam, almost stumbling on the bottom step, almost falling onto him. He found Sam struggling already. Flailing for the railings, grasping for purchase. Gasping.
"Hey, Sam? Hey, it's OK...just wait a minute...let me see, let me see!" He flicked on the flashlight, it's beam flinching at the sight Dean could now see. A semi circle of steel, jagged, wedged into Sam's sternum. A home strike. A bulls eye. Dead centre. Blood already running down his sirt and onto his jeans.
He switched off the torch. The darkness almost a comfort to him now. Sam might have to suffer this...he didn't need to see it. He moved in behind his brother, lifting his shoulders and head, the simple movement causing Sam pain. His breathing rapid, and strained already. Already.
"It's OK, just settle on me now...just settle..." Dean pulled his shoulders back with one arm, his other hand fumbling for his mobile from his pocket. The light from it made him squint. No signal. He stretched his arm up and back, searching. Searching. No signal. He bit back a scream. He looked down at his brother. The metal moved up and down with every breath he took. Sam maintained a determined grasp onto the railing with one hand, the other flailing, sometimes pushing against the metal. Feeling it. Assessing it. Understanding what it was. All the while his breathing laboured. A different rhythm now. As if the shock had passed and a new pain had control.
"Dean –" he said. It wasn't a question, nor a call for sympathy even. It was a statement. A statement of their situation. An efficient assessment. They were screwed.
"I know, Sam. I know...but...at least, at least we're here...together, huh?" Dean replied. He felt Sam's head resting on his chest now. Could feel him nodding. Like a child. A child nodding because he knew something bad was going to happen but there was nothing he could do about it. Like Dad going away again. Like having to move schools again. Like knowing that when he went to sleep that he'd dream of Jess again. Like having to shoot Madison. Like waiting for the hell hounds...
And so it was now. There would be no rescue. No ambulance in the nick of time. No engineers turning up for work in the next few minutes. No Bobby with a timely appearance. No one, from nowhere.
And then Dean heard it. A single sob from Sam as he turned his head and pressed his cheek into Deans shirt. He lifted his arm up, and Dean saw the flash of his watch face, and he grasped his hand, rested it against Sam's ribs, and held it there. He leant his cheek onto the top of Sam's head. Encircling him in his embrace. A silent sympathy for the pain he was in. The warmth from Sam a contrast to the cold steel jutting into his hip and back. The breathing deteriorating now, into a wretched rasping noise. A sick rhythm of short and painful.
"Dean – " he rasped. Almost a gargle. Dean pulled him closer.
"Yeah, Sam...just, just let it go now. Just...let it go...." Deans voice breaking now. This moment too much to bear. All the things he wanted to say, somehow overwhelmed by his feelings of loss and regret, and the unremitting urge to stay strong for Sam. Not to break. Not like this.
What they had fought for over all these years, had now come to this. A dirty, desolate warehouse, in the mid west of no where. If he could change places, he would. If he could change time, right here, right now, he would. If he could change their past? Well, what did the past matter? All they had was the here and now. This moment. Nothing else mattered.
And then, after a short while, a lull in Sam's breathing. A hesitation almost. And then silence. No more breathing. No coughing, no straining. No jagged gasps, no gargles, no tensing. His shoulders relaxed back into Dean's chest, his head heavy now, his hand falling from the rail.
Peace. True peace.
And so it returned. As if it had ever left. That clawing, desperate gnawing at his heart and throat. Just like last time. And he cried. Just like the last time. In the darkness. In the cold. Just like last time. It was like a returning enemy, goading him. Urging him to retaliate.
Through his tears he saw him. Standing. Waiting. His head bowed, as usual.
"I think he's dead, Castiel...Sam is dead," Dean whispered.
"He's with us now, Dean," he replied. Soothing. With love. "There's no pain. No fear. No worry for him now. Only light and love."
Dean exhaled in relief. He bit back a sob. Trying to speak.
"Great...that's...that's good to hear." he managed. Relief washing over him, easing him, if only slightly.
"Come with me now. " It was more a request than an order. Dean looked towards him. Searching his expression. Willing him to say it again.
"You're work is done, and there is no more," Castiel said. His gaze unwavering. He came closer to them, his face almost aglow in the gloom.
"Really?" Dean shivered. "This is it? This is...this is where it ends?" Castiel maintained his gaze on the man. This man he had come to know and respect. And learn from. The man he had watched struggle and suffer on this earth...as he had done in hell. The righteous man who had saved the world, and his brother. The man who lowered his head, resting his face onto his brothers head once more. Castiel could see his pain and grief slowly leaving him now. His own shoulders relaxing. Dean lifted his head towards Castiel. Ready now.
And Castiel smiled.